Wednesday, April 04, 2007

India : Children Cheaper Than Buffalo

A sad, dehumanising story from the London Times about child slaves in India. Hard to believe that an animal is valued more highly, at least in commercial terms, than a child :

It is cheaper to buy a child than a buffalo in India, according to activists who marched on a summit of South Asian nations in Delhi yesterday to protest against human trafficking.

Most end up in bonded labour or working as prostitutes, the leaders of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) said as they escorted more than 200 children to the gates of the Indian Parliament to call for changes to legislation.

“While buffaloes may cost up to 15,000 rupees (£177), children are sold at prices between 500 and 2,000 rupees,” Bhuvan Ribhu, who conducted a study to be released later this year, said.

(Activists) claim that more than 50,000 Nepalese children and 40,000 Bangladeshi children are bought and sold across the border every year by scouts rounding up workers for farms, carpet factories, quarries and brothels.

Desperately poor parents frequently exchange their children for money, often as little as $5.

Some falsely believe that their children are being taken to work as domestic servants and will send money home. Few ever return. Others trade their sons and daughters to pay money lenders.

Up to 15 million children in India, most of them from low-caste families, could be enslaved to work off someone else’s debt, according to a Save the Children report published last month on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by Britain. The report also said that children account for a fifth of India’s workforce in sandstone quarries and nearly a third of sex workers.

India still has more than 12.6 million child workers aged 5 to 14. In Asia the estimated number is 122 million, according to the International Labour Organisation. India still has more than 12.6 million child workers aged 5 to 14, the largest number of any country in the world.

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