Sunday, April 3, 2011

Child Labor

Today I had a positively productive evening, I hope so! We stepped out for a walk with a visitor we have today at home. On our way we stopped over at a temple, I generally go to. The best part about temples is the “Prasad” that you receive from the priest; they are just too tasty and yummy. I know I sound like a little girlJ. So after our prayers, I noticed that they were going to offer Prasad in those leaf bowls. I insisted to wait for it, so we sat in the nearby seating area.
My new friend - Apoorva
Before, I had noticed a girl about 12 yrs old smacking one of the two kids she was taking care of. When I sat down, the same girl came & sat next to me & questioned me instantly, “Akka (Elder sister), Where do you live?” Generally I wouldn’t answer such a question, but she seemed so innocent so I gave her the landmark to my house. She said she had seen me before in the temple. She asked me who the two guys were with me, brothers or friends? I said one was my husband and another friend. She gasped, “You are married? You look like a girl!” (blush J) Kidding! She slowly peaked at my toe rings and said she didn’t notice them before to know I was married. Moreover, she hadn’t seen married women in jeans! Hmm…I didn’t know what to say to that. I asked her name; Apoorva a very nice name. And then she came to her point saying, “Akka, if you need any help please let me know. I am looking out for work at homes”. I was a bit taken back. I asked her what her age was, she said 14. She really didn’t look old enough. I told her it is illegal to hire children below 14 to work. I asked her why she wanted to work; she said she has two months at hand and all her friends work so why not her!

I tried to explain her that her age is to play and study and enjoy like all other normal kids. Someday she has to work & earn like everybody, but then she can’t play or study. On enquiring, I got to know that she had no parents anymore and she lived with her elder sister & husband and the two kids belonged to her sister. I learnt that she goes to school and she just gave her 8th grade exams; which also made me realize that she is not 14 but much younger. I promised her that I would buy her books for her 9th grade, but that she should not work as a help at homes. I tried to explain her how she should study and educate herself and do a job in an office when she grows up. Apparently, her elder sister is working in some kind of office or factory, which is good. I tried to educate her about different jobs with minimum basic education, which would give her opportunity to do a decent job than wash clothes & utensils at homes.
Sadly, it is a new trend these days in India to hire poor girls from the villages who stay at home and take care of the kids and everything. This is very common with the highly-paid IT couples, who prefer to hire help because they are busy with their jobs. In fact, my mother had suggested me a while ago that if I settle in Bangalore then she knew a friend whose daughter has such a help. I stopped my mother right away and showed my anger regarding the topic of hiring a small girl. I told her no matter how busy my work life would get in future; I would never hire a young girl to take care of my house and family and that she should never bring this topic to discussion again. It is just wrong and educated people like us should not support or follow such trends. I understand that the poor families need money for their survival, but still I would not be a part of such employment.
I hope I could share some good knowledge with Apoorva and I plan to buy the 9th grade books for her. I might have disappointed her with respect to giving her a job. I still want to appeal to my IT friends that it is wrong to hire children. Please stop child labor!

1 comment:

  1. This is so nice of you Shilpa. I hope she will listen to you and stay friends with you for a long time.