‘A sea of broken children’: COVID-19 leaves orphans, child labourers in its wake in India

“Every child who is on the streets is a manifestation of failure of state. Every child who is out of school, every child who is begging, every child who has ever been a victim of any violence, sexual or otherwise, is an example of failure of state,” said Anurag Kundu, chairperson of the Delhi Commission For Protection of Child Rights .Job losses and deaths caused by the pandemic have created fertile ground for child traffickers, as some families have “no choice but to push their children to labour, to begging”, he said. “The traffickers are from around the villages and they know about the situation around there. They target vulnerable families,” said Rakesh Senger, executive director of programmes at the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.  “In the supply chain, the trafficker is connected to the locals, who identify and tell them about the vulnerable families and the children who can be taken away.” And where traffickers used to give about US$15 or 1,000 rupees as an advance to the children’s families, they now give US$150 to US$200 (11,255 to 15,000 rupees), Senger said. “So this way, the children become bonded labourers for a year."

‘A sea of broken children’: COVID-19 leaves orphans, child labourers in its wake in India

“Every child who is on the streets is a manifestation of failure of state. Every child who is out of school, every child who is begging, every child who has ever been a victim of any violence, sexual or otherwise, is an example of failure of state,” said Anurag Kundu, chairperson of the Delhi Commission For Protection of Child Rights .

Job losses and deaths caused by the pandemic have created fertile ground for child traffickers, as some families have “no choice but to push their children to labour, to begging”, he said.

“The traffickers are from around the villages and they know about the situation around there. They target vulnerable families,” said Rakesh Senger, executive director of programmes at the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation. 

“In the supply chain, the trafficker is connected to the locals, who identify and tell them about the vulnerable families and the children who can be taken away.”

And where traffickers used to give about US$15 or 1,000 rupees as an advance to the children’s families, they now give US$150 to US$200 (11,255 to 15,000 rupees), Senger said. “So this way, the children become bonded labourers for a year."