TO FACE WITH CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
In the West, many arguments are
presented to justify the use of child labour in developing countries:
the families will starve if the children don’t work, the children get
their dignity from working, it is part of their culture. But inevitably,
the contrast with our own children - children walking to school, playing
in the park, enjoying childhood - is striking. How can something so
unacceptable for a child born in the UK be acceptable for one born in
that she could not impose western ideals on other cultures, Claire
Phillips decided to ask the child labourers directly. Facilitated by the
Indian charity, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) she
researched, interviewed, sketched and photographed children who have
been rescued from factories, brick works, mining, domestic service and
2011, and again in 2012, Claire visited BBA to see their work first hand
and meet the children rescued from desperate slave labour conditions.
Most become victims of trafficking after their parents are conned into
believing that their children will have an education and a better
future. The parents never see their children again.
Boys as young as 9 years old recounted
to Claire how they had lived and worked in terrible conditions for 14
hours a day in return for 2 bowls of rice a day. Some described being
beaten if they fell asleep and beaten more if they cried.
older children explained that the rescued children are the lucky ones
– they have so much hope for the future as they return to education,
some even studying to degree level. Many choose to work rescuing other
children like themselves and campaigning against the use of child labour.
Others travel around remote villages educating parents about the tactics
of traffickers and enabling villagers to claim their legal rights to
schools and clean water.
these paintings Claire shows the very nature of the child – playful,
mischievous, innocent and vulnerable. The children represented in these
portraits* are reclaiming their childhood from conditions that no adult
should endure, let alone a child of 9 or 10 years old. The gentle nature
of the portraits is juxtaposed against the stories of their experience
told from their own words and soundtracks from the journey to meet them.
information on Bachpan Bachao Andolan please visit www.bba.org.in
Names may have been changed to protect the identity of those depicted