Child labour cases rise in June
With the gradual lifting of restrictions, cases of child labour and missing children have seen a steady rise in June compared to the lockdown months.
In June, six child labour related cases were reported to the Childline in Gautam Budh Nagar compared to none in April and two in May. There were 18 such cases in March before the first phase of lockdown was announced to contain the Covid-19 spread.
“As the situation is coming back to normal, these issues will keep on increasing. With more restrictions being lifted, the number of child labour cases will also be on the rise,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB India Suraksha, an NGO that manages the helpline in GB Nagar.
Childline – 1098 – is a 24x7 helpline number for children in distress.
Prakash said that most of these cases were from the unorganised sector establishments like local eateries or grocery shops, though one case was of an underage domestic help.
“Most of the migrants who had left for their home towns are now coming back. Even though many of them are avoiding coming back with families, a few will use all members, including children, to earn some money. Besides, the closure of schools due to the pandemic is also adding to the problem,” he said.
The cases of missing children have also gone up from five in April and four in May to 12 in June.
“On average, we receive about 1,100 intervention calls in a year. However, the figure will definitely be much higher this year as the patterns suggest,” said Prakash.
Police officials admitted that there is a rise in the child labour cases in the district. “On Friday itself we had two tip-offs for child labour cases in Greater Noida. As economic activities resume, more such instances might come to light,” said Vrinda Shukla, deputy commissioner of police (women and child safety).
PK Singh, district labour commissioner, said, “We have a task force which acts on the information about child labour cases. We coordinate with anti-human trafficking unit, Childline, and police, and conduct raids if the need be. The rescued children are then taken to shelter homes for counselling, and are presented before the Child Welfare Committee before being sent back to their families.”
The number of help calls to the Childline had more than doubled in April in the beginning of the lockdown. Most of these revolved around requests for nutrition of children.
“Needy people were receiving food from various social organisations or the government. But we were receiving requests for milk and baby food. We are still receiving such requests. It is a new pattern and wasn’t there before the lockdown,” said Prakash.
The total number of intervention calls, which also include counselling of children, among others, also went up to 28 in June compared to 20 in April and 24 in May, he said.