Expensive marriages fuelling child labour in Delhi

Delhi: In April 2013, an NGO along with local administration conducted a raid at a garment manufacturing unit in Tirupur area of Tamil Nadu and rescued 22 children. The NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), also found children as young as nine working in garment units. The children were sent to protection homes, and the owners of the factory were subsequently booked. But not much was known about how much responsible were India-based garment factories for pushing child trafficking to new levels.


Two years later, BBA, in a comprehensive report revealed that more than 35% of rescued children were found working in zari-manufacturing units. In its report titled ‘Employment of Children in Hazardous and Family Run Business’, the organisation has put out a data of children rescued between 2010 and 2014.

Out of the total 5,829 children rescued, 3,022 were below 14 years and 2,231 were found to be between 14 and 17 years of age. Out of the 3,022 rescued children, a staggering 2,222 were found working in Delhi.

It is, however, the industry-wise breakup of employment of children which is more alarming. The report suggests that out of a total of 4,860 children, 1,825 were found to be working in various zari units of the country.

“There is a growing demand of expensive wedding dresses, suits and other pieces of clothing across India and especially in Delhi. This is the reason that so many of our rescue operations focused in areas known for housing Zari units,” said Rakesh Senger of the BBA.

According to him, among the states which top the list are Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab and New Delhi. He said that in most cases, the factories are owned by sub-contractors hired by some of the largest companies dealing in garments with zari work. According to the date released by BBA, 79% of the children rescued were working in zari, footwear and other accessories manufacturing industries.

“This way, the designer companies are not liable for the actions of their sub-contractors,” Senger told dna. He said the same goes for other industries which have been found of employing children below 18.

A crime branch official of Delhi Police told dna that cops have cooperating with all child rights NGOs but said that the menace of trafficking continues to grow. “Most of these industries are set up in residential areas which makes it easy for the culprits to conceal these units. At times, we have found more than 20 children shoved into a tiny basement located in some of the most of expensive areas of the capital,” the officer said. Among the areas included Lajpat Nagar, South Extension and Kotla Mubarakpur.

“Initially, the children get excited by seeing so many colourful clothes but when they are made to work for hours together they come to know that they are in trouble,” said another police official adding that most of the children are brought from their native by their relatives.

The officials added that most of the children don’t even know about the products they are forced to work on. The work is divided in such a way that the children never get to see the entire product.