The Heavy Weight on Tiny Shoulders

The world is moving ahead with the speed of light. We have satellites, rockets, dams, jets, nuclear missiles, bullet trains, complex nation systems, abundant food, and yet, there are still little hands that are working to earn something that will barely get them a proper meal. Yes, child labour is still very much a part of our reality, with India itself being home to 1,26,66,377 child laborers.

These kids are trafficked,exploited and forced to work. They are abducted at the tender age of 5, and sent off to places from where they never return. They are made to work in manufacturing units for cigarettes, fireworks, liquor, jewellery etc. These traffickers abduct kids for these products because they have small hands and therefore it’s easier for them to roll cigarettes, to fill the powder, and to stick bindis. The chemicals used in making these goods are harmful even for an adult, and cause diseases like cancer and tuberculosis. The children have to grow up in this toxic environment and if they contract a disease, they are trafficked to people dealing with child beggars. There, they go through the most inhuman form of exploitation: mutilation of body parts in an attempt to make them garner sympathy while begging, because who wouldn’t feel sympathetic towards a kid with no arms and legs? Others are purchased to do household work. Some are used for fulfilling shameful and disgusting desires of humans like sex and porn. Some girls are bought to get married to multiple men and some are pushed into prostitution. However, not all child labour is forced. Some children work voluntarily to support their familes, and take any job they can find. The employer is privy to their desperation, and often exploits them by paying them less than half the usual wages.

We see underage children working all around us, and despite knowing it is child labour we feel hesitant to help them out. We usually justify the situation by saying that the children need the money, or render ourselves helpless by saying that the society itself is ignorant, that the same lawmakers who criminalise child labour are the ones who ask a child to serve them tea. We have various NGOs who help children get out of this modern slavery, but the problem seems to ave ousted the solutions.

All children should be able to live their childhood instead of being forced to work for survival. One’s heart gets heavy when one even thinks about little hands working away like slaves rather than playing in the mud. Can we help them all? I guess not. But it will be a shame if we do not help when we can.

His face with no shine
Like the dark mine
His eyes as fiery as melted gold
Poured hot into the mold
His shoulders too loaded for his age
Like the calescent gold he bent as a page
His hands not as smooth as gold
That he made & his masters sold.

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