As many as 29 children have been rescued in 10 days under Sarana Balyam, a project launched by the Women and Child Development Department to wipe out child labour and child begging in the State. Launched in Pathanamthitta during the Mandalam season, the project was extended to Kollam, Alappuzha, and Kottayam on January 1.
Child rescue forces under the district child protection officers (DCPOs) concerned became operational 10 days ago. Seven boys and five girls from Pathanamthitta, four boys in Kottayam, two boys and girls each in Alappuzha, and three boys and six girls were identified and rescued by the forces.
Of the 29 children, 22 are from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan. They sold bangles and chains in pilgrimage centres, besides working in hotels.
Three girls and three boys from Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta who were in need of care and protection were among those rescued.
School dropouts because of difficult circumstances, the children sold bangles and other stuff at low wages and for maximum profit. They were housed in dirty surroundings and without any security. Some of them did not get enough to eat even. Girls and grown-up men were all living together in temporary sheds.
The children were produced before the DCPOs concerned.
Steps were being taken to produce children from other States in front of the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) of their respective States, a statement from the office of Minister for Social Justice K.K. Shylaja said.
Studies should not be affected
Three children from Pathanamthitta who were working in hotels were sent home with their guardians on the assurance that their studies would not be disrupted. Steps have also been taken to ensure that the children atttend school regularly.
The force also found seven children who were working with their parents at Oachira and took steps to send them to school. Steps have also been taken to test the DNA of those who claimed to be parents of two girls rescued from Pathanamthitta to establish their identity.
A girl from Alappuzha who was a survivor in a case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Posco) Act but was found to be living under similar circumstances was produced in front of the CWC and moved to a child protection home. The police have registered four cases in Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts for employing children for child labour. Ms. Shylaja said steps to check begging, child labour, and other exploitation of children would continue.
Read ‘The Hindu’ (source) article here.