Saturday, March 18, 2006

Age of innonence, burdened lives

Next in Sonia Faleiro's series on lives of demostic workers: Age of innonence, burdened lives
A hard-hitting post related to child domestic workers.
The previous day, Kale visited a hospital in Bhayander where Nidhi, 12, was recuperating from burn marks from heated coconut husks. Her mistake? She worked too slowly. Nidhi’s services had been purchased from her father, a farmer in Kolkatta, for Rs 1,000. She hadn’t received her monthly salary of Rs 200 for eight months, and was abused until a neighbour called the police. Despite what is acknowledged as a growing problem, according to Kale, only six cases of physical abuse against child domestic workers have been registered in the past year.
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Child domestic workers—90 per cent of whom are girls—, who are forced into work by poverty ...
Their parent’s relationship is but one aspect of the girl’s lives, poisoned by poverty. Their fathers are alcoholics, spending Rs 22 on a half quarter of country liquor daily. They beat their wives and children. So Naina and Nagina are slapped at home, and slapped, sometime fondled at work. They’re hungry at home, famished at work. One constant? Work.
...
They understand the concepts of opportunity and deprivation. If you give Nagina a Bengali storybook, her eyes will light up. But if you ask her what she wants to become when she grows up, she will respond without rancor: “What will I become? I’m a servant.”

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