All of us (or at least the ones who care just that little bit for whatever happens around us in society) would’ve surely felt a small warm feeling in our hearts last week when we saw or heard in the news that Child Labor in Developing Countries was finally being viewed as a serious issues by the ‘power that be’ (in this case, Gap, a leading apparel brand in the US).
This gave international human rights agencies and other volunatary organizations the impetus to pressurize callous governments such as ours to do something about this burning issue. We all were witness to the Delhi Police conduct raids on numerous institutions in and around Delhi and rescue children from being robbed of their childhood.
As I was watching the footage of the raids unfold on television, one question popped into my mind, what next for these children? Yes, it was good that they were rescued from being exploited, from being thrust into sweatshops, but then, how exactly are they going to earn their next meal? And what about the families of these children, who I am sure were not too thrilled that they were going to be deprived of those precious few rupees that these children used to take back home.
Amit Varma (of India Uncut fame) has precisely made the same point in this article of his in livemint.com. Read it to get a better understanding of how shutting down sweatshops is probably only the first step in this huge exercise to return a long-lost childhood back to these children.
While Amit does not have all the answers, at least he brings to light the fact that just rescuing these children from sweatshops is not enough, in fact, it does nothing to alleviate the lives of these children. Far from it, what it actually does to these children is to take away some of the self-esteem that they had when they were employed, and will probably drive them to beggary or even worse prostitution.
I don’t have any ideas as to how to resolve this issue. This is just too big a problem for me to even think of the possible ramifications. Plus it has just been around for too long and the number of children is too daunting for me to even hazard a guess or even brain-storm as to how to resolve this issue. Any ideas folks??