INDIA: Child Safety Net program rescues 127 children from labor
Rescue operations conducted in collaboration with the local police and labor departments
(MissionNewswire) The Child Safety Net program, part of the Office of Development of the Province of Bangalore, India (BREADS – Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society), rescued 127 children from child labor from July 2021 to January 2022. The children rescued were ages 11-18.
The children were engaged in bag and cap stitching, saree dyeing, glass cutting, printing, paper making, steel chair production, kulfi/ice cream production, and construction work. All the rescue operations were conducted in collaboration with the local police and labor departments.
Staff with the Child Safety Net found that the children were brought to Bangalore by contractors, who made advance payments to their parents. The children were forced to work all day into the night in small, gloomy and suffocating conditions, with little or no medical care.
Children were not provided face masks, exposing them to COVID-19. They were not permitted to talk to their parents back home without the consent of the employers.
Child Safety Net rescued siblings Yousaf Khan and Muzamil Khan, ages 13 and 14 respectively, in Gangondanahalli, Bangalore. Both worked in the garment industry to support their impoverished parents. The children’s father was partially blind and had suffered a huge loss in his business, and their mother was a homemaker. The family had little money to support themselves.
The Child Safety Net team coordinated the children’s rescue with the local labor inspector and the police. After they were safe, they were taken for medical examinations and age verification. The children were initially sheltered in the BOSCO Open Shelter Home where they underwent counseling sessions while the parents were summoned to decide what would happen. The children were returned to their parents who promised to send them to a hostel to continue their education.
“Youth who are rescued from child labor and can return to their education have a chance at a better life,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian programs aim to help children live safely while getting the emotional support they need and the education that will help them live independently. It’s a second chance for these children to have hope for a better life.”
Child Safety Net, implemented by BOSCO and supported by BREADS, plays a major role in addressing atrocities against children, reducing the number of children on the street through close monitoring at the grassroots level. Throughout its activities, 27,933 children have been rescued, and 3,500 awareness programs have been provided in schools, public places, government departments, reaching more than 430,000 people. In addition, 1,020 bonded and child laborers were rescued with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.
India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.
Salesian missionaries living and working in India place special emphasis on rescuing and rehabilitating children engaged in child labor. There are Salesian-run programs throughout the country that have helped hundreds of thousands of vulnerable youth through the years, and this work continues today.
Photo courtesy of BREADS – Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society
Salesian Missions – India
World Bank – India