About four lakh Indian children are engaged in hybrid cotton fields in four cotton growing states, says a report by the India Committee of the Netherlands’ (ICN).
ICN’s director Gerard Oonk said, “The report makes it chillingly clear that our cotton products are tainted with massive bonded child labour. Both Indian and multinational companies are involved in this trade and governments and international organisations should make every effort to get the children out of this pernicious work and direct them to schools. We would certainly urge Indian organizations and those of other countries to do so.’’
Based on the field research done by Glocal Research, the report said that out of the total number of children involved in child labour in the cotton industry, 2.25 lakh are below the age of 14.
The report also said that the children are made to work for 8 to 12 hours with a paltry earning of Rs 20 to 30 per day. “They are routinely exposed to poisonous pesticides and often trafficked as migrants from other districts and states,” the report said.
While in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat more than 80% of the children are trafficked, North Gujarat ‘receives’ tens of thousands of children from Rajasthan every year. The children often live in makeshift shelters and are vulnerable to mental, physical and sexual abuse, the report said.
The report accused the 13 big Indian companies and two multinationals, Monsanto and Bayer, for their involvement in this ‘modern form of child slavery’.