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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Most child labour in Bangalore is Muslim

The number of children below 14 years of age was 300 million in the country according to the 1991 census. According to a report of United Nations 200 million children are engaged in petty jobs, begging and flesh trade all over the world. In India 20 million children are engaged in jobs like bidi-making, waiters in small restaurants and eateries and hawking. In Delhi, 0.4 million children below the age of 14 years are engaged in such jobs including hard physical labour. 

Muslim child labour

In Karnataka, the maximum number of Muslim child labourers is found in Bangalore. In many areas of Bangalore like Tilak Nagar and Azad Nagar, Muslim children between 7 and 14 years of age set out for jobs in shops and factories in the morning earning on an average Rs 5 to 20 daily. Because of increasing population, lack of educational facilities, high cost of living, and irresponsible and unfair activities of husbands combined with backwardness of families, the responsibility of bringing up children generally falls on mothers in the city. 

In such families some husbands even disappear in order to get rid of familial responsibilities and thus mothers are compelled to send their children for work. These illiterate and poor children cannot do any other job except petty and menial work on daily wages. Mothers also have to do household jobs as washing clothes and utensils, sweeping and cooking in homes of well-off people. Minor boys and girls, instead of going to schools have to do petty jobs because of their adverse economic conditions.

In 1994 a law was passed under which employment of children below 14 years was declared a punishable offence, but it is yet to be implemented.

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