According to the Child Rescue Nepal[i], there are 100,000 children working as slaves in Nepal. The underdevelopment of the country has led to poverty, many families not even having a square meal a day. Nature’s fury in the form of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 devastated the geography further pushing the people to destitution and dependency, forcing children to shoulder the burden of the family at a tender age compromising their education and health. They suffer from sexual abuse and physical torture from wardens, employers and many others.
Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Said.
“Child slavery is a crime against humanity. Humanity itself is at stake here. A lot of work still remains, but I will see the end of child labor in my lifetime.”
Children ought to study and play at this age to develop their mental and physical faculties but these unfortunate ones, don’t have a respite from the backbreaking work let alone studies and play. Because employers know that children are silent victims, who rarely complain about their rights or entitlements.
In India, it is not different; twenty-four girls [ii]were rescued from an illegal shelter home in Uttarpradesh where these girls were subjected to sexual exploitation. These victims would have been silent for long; fortunately, one minor child who escaped from the clutches of these exploiters told the tragic story to the police which made them uncover the whole issue. Last year, the government had cancelled the registration of the said shelter home following the findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that it was not legal. Post-cancellation, these unscrupulous administrators were operating the shelter home with impunity under the nose of the government servants is even more shocking and appalling.
Shelter homes are presumed to be foster homes equipped with lovable people who provide shelter to the orphanage children. But this single incident presses for stringent rules and regulations along with sustained inspections for averting these incidents. These serious issues put the onus on the government to set benchmark standards for shelter homes especially with ‘girls’ as inmates.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar declared that his government will run all the shelter homes in the state after the Muzaffarpur shelter home case [iii] jolted his ministry. Here, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) shelter home was run by a media personality with immunity from government servants. It was the social audit report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which revealed the startling story of the sexual abuse in the shelter home.
When poverty and deprivation are making children vulnerable in Nepal and India, the war in South Sudan[iv] is displacing families, sometimes killing them often in front of their children, leaving traumatic experiences to haunt these little ones throughout their lives. These children need, not just a shelter home but a place where their bad experiences can be extirpated from their minds. They need support from a psychological team to lead a normal life.
One of the products of war is refugees; they have no land or country to support them. Most of the times, they are considered as infiltrators or terrorists, pushing them to makeshift houses without proper facilities. Think about the plight of children without their parents. Most of these vulnerable children live in unhygienic surroundings where even basic facilities are scarce.
The influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar had already hurtled towards a crisis in the border of Bangladesh. Some of the children[v], who don’t have parents to bank on; sleep in the open space, confronted by the vagaries of the Bangladeshi government. From basic facilities to food items to shelter homes, everything is in short supply. Everyone has to scramble for the minimum necessities, think about the plight of the small children who have neither the strength nor the experience to scuffle with people.
In these challenging situations, poor countries don’t have the wherewithal to support the vulnerable children, that is where they place reliance on International organizations[vi].This funding is a golden opportunity for low-income countries to address the issues in an effective manner without digging their coffers for money. But unfortunately, this fund is swindled[vii] by the governmental authorities of some poor countries, causing outrage of international organizations forcing them to reverse the funding commitments, thereby impelling the ‘little ones’ to remain in the vicious cycle of vulnerable life.
Rajesh.T.V is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]