Domestic Work and Child Labor in India: Contextualizing Exploitation and Agency
India is a country that violates the least human rights standards practiced globally. It is well known for modern-day human trafficking where it ferries in immigrants, mostly girls, to work in their upper and middle-class households. Many NGOs dealing with anti-trafficking in India have put this issue of child labor in domestic work as a priority of discussion. The unregulated agencies that bring young girls to do domestic work in India do not cater for their safety and favoring environment at work. Instead, they let them be mistreated and overworked.
Despite the many anti-trafficking NGOs centering the issue of child labor in domestic work in India and further going to rescue them from their inhumane employers, some are reluctant to oppose the situation, inclusive of the police, who also resist this movement (Ramachandran). Employment of domestic workers is not a mistake since they aid in house chores, especially in India, where women are mostly involved in all the chores despite the number of family members available. India has a vast number of uneducated poor people. Subsequently, they rely on odd jobs, such as domestic work, to get a little income to sustain them. However, the relationship between housemaids and employers is not favorable to the former since the conditions are harsh and wages are very low. Consequently, it promotes discrimination as well as gender and class inequalities. Even the children of the laborers are not helped in getting an education, making this culture against human welfare. The practice also promotes poverty since such workers cannot progress economic wise.
Children working in these conditions in India undergo many problems like sex abuse, overworking, beatings, and low payment. The unregistered agencies which place them in various households, however, profit from this illegal act. In Delhi, these reports are many and evident; for example, in 2012, there was a couple of medics who went away on holiday leaving a thirteen-year-old maid locked in the house with only scraps to eat. It is one of the many examples reported to the anti-trafficking NGOs in their attempt to rescue them. There are almost 12.9 million child laborers in this country. Sending girls to work in households is one of the survival tactics used by the poor. The level of economy in the current era is tough too, and to cope some extra mile like taking young girls to work instead of school, which such families cannot afford, is a loophole.
In the rescuing attempt, the police in India, however, have refused to liaise with the NGOs in rescuing and implementing laws against child labor. NGOs too have not put in strategy beneficial programs like free education, free technical training to these children, who are reluctant to leave the unethical jobs in the search for little wage to afford a living. They could also put better work regulations to the household owners and strictly implement them to solve this issue since rescuing alone is not enough as many people keep going back and more recruits keep coming. Setting up laws and putting them in action against these acts will help in reducing child labor and unfavorable domestic work conditions. In fact, the police should enforce them and punish those who violate on the ground to make the laws effective.