BabyGirl and FriendsDalitSlumDwarka381796dpi (1)
"Baby Girl Surrounded by Other Juhi Children" [Juhi Village Slum, near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. 24" X 16" 2009 (Color Photograph) Image #3817] - Kids caught in bonded labor are virtually slaves; rarely are they able to escape the work that leaves them indebted. Most are illiterate, many sold into forced labor by their parents in order to pay off small debts. These children are often crippled by the time they reach adulthood from working the 12+ hour daily shifts, 6 ½ to 7 days a week. They are beaten and often raped by their employers, unable to have a voice with the local authorities. The vast majority of these children are Dalit (the Untouchables). Children in bonded labor are bound to their employers in exchange for a loan; they are unable to leave while in debt and earn so little paying off that debt that they may never be free of it. Since their illiteracy includes a lack of simple math skills, they can never figure out how long it will take to pay off the debt. These countless children are laboring 12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week in agriculture; others are picking rags, making bricks. Because of their tiny hands they are ideal workers for polishing gemstones, rolling “beedi” cigarettes, packaging firecrackers, working as domestics, they sew the intricate embroidery, labor in the silk industry, hand-weave the carpets. This forced labor often leads the girls, as young as five years old, into the thick web of forced prostitution, and inevitable early death from rampant sexually transmitted disease.
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