“Every child in Karnataka will grow in a safe, protected and enabling environment, that fosters positive all round development of the child and creates opportunities for every child to reach her/his potential. An environment where all stakeholders of the state, including parents, care providers and the community, work in partnership to make children’s rights a reality by eliminating discrimination, bringing respect in its interactions with children, valuing children’s opinions and participation, and upholding dignity of the child.” (Karnataka State Child Protection Policy 2016-Department of women and child development-Bangalore.)
Children are the assets of every nation but the shocking and pitiable plight of hundreds of children who are forced to work in the agriculture sectors of Devadurga Taluk of Raichur district is a gross violation of child rights. For many years this inhuman practice of trafficking children in overcrowded vehicles for work continues unabated in Devadurga. The public, the various Government Departments like Labour, Women and Child Development, Revenue and Police are blind to this harsh reality of children. The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation Act, 2016) prohibits children upto the age of fourteen being employed in any sector but for the labour department this law to protect children from exploitation makes no difference and no effort is made to implement the law. We have various Departments and systems to protect child rights like The National Commission for the Protection of the Child Rights, The State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, The State Child Protection Unit, the District Child Protection Unit, The Child Welfare Committee and a separate Department under the Government for the protection of children. Yet, when it comes to implement the existing laws and protect children, the role played by the concerned department is dismal.
Don Bosco Social Service (DBSS), Devadurga, has been involved under the CREAM project in protecting and promoting child rights through multi-pronged strategies like training children on child rights, forming child rights clubs, training different stakeholders and forming child protection committees at Grama Panchayat level and through advocacy with various Government Departments. But to create impact and to implement effectively child protection mechanisms we need the active involvement of various Government Departments to reach out to the plight of children. DBSS organized a survey of vehicles which transport children for work on 18-04-2018 to assess the number of vehicles that traffic children for the purpose of work in the agriculture sector from various villages in and around Devadurga Taluk. The staff stationed themselves in some of the important pockets of the town namely Jalahalli cross, Sirwar cross and Gabbur cross for this purpose. It was really heart breaking to know that the staff tracked over 113 vehicles which were used for trafficking 964 children over the time span of 3 hours.(8:00 am to 11:00 am). Among this 620 children were below 14. This is not an issue of a single day. This happens every day especially in the month of April and May and throughout the agricultural season, to work in the cotton and chilly field. We consider children as the wealth of the nation and the development of the nation depends on their development. This act of violation, definitely deny the right to education of the children and thereby their development. The outcome of the survey is really shocking especially to those who are interested in child welfare. To put an end to this, a memorandum was submitted to the following Government Departments urging them to intervene and protect the children:-
1) Karnataka State Commission for Protection for Child Rights, Bangalore,
2) Karnataka State Human Rights Commission,
3) Commission for Labour, Government of Karnataka,
4) Secretary to Government, Department of Labour Karnataka,
5) Director Department of Women and Child Development, Bangalore,
6) Chairperson and Members Child Welfare Committee Raichur,
7) Deputy Commissioner, Raichur.