Waste segregation plan exposes child labour

Underage kids employed in hotels and residences to separate garbage

Waste segregation plan exposes child labour

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s decision to enforce segregation of garbage at source has exposed several hotels and house owners employing underage
children. 

In the last week, Childline, the child emergency hotline of Bangalore, has received three calls from people who have spotted underage children segregating garbage at hotels and
residential buildings.

In one instance, a taxi driver who used to frequent a hotel in Madhavanagar near Majestic was startled to see a 13-year-old boy segregating garbage in the morning.

The driver immediately alerted the Childline. The driver claimed that he had not seen the boy on his earlier visits to the hotel. According to a volunteer associated with the helpline, the driver observed the boy over a period of time and realised that he lived on the first floor of the hotel.

“The boy apparently was seen only because he was sent downstairs with the garbage and told to segregate vegetable waste from plastic,” the volunteer said.

Two similar cases were reported from Indiranagar and Banashankari areas where underage children were employed as domestic helps in apartments.

“Both the complaints are similar. The neighbours saw a girl, 14, and a boy, 12, while they were segregating garbage. In both the cases, the neighbours informed the Childline after ascertaining that the children were working as domestic helps,” the volunteer said.
The Childline staff are now inquiring into these cases.

A co-ordinator with Childline said that it is usually difficult to spot the children as they are usually indoors.

“This is a sheer coincidence which has worked in our favour. In many cases like these, neighbours themselves are shocked to realise that someone might be employing an underage kid. Apartments are very self-contained units, but neighbours should inform us if they notice similar case,” he said.

A recent complaint to the Childline concerned an apartment with 400 units in Bannerghatta, which has strict rules and even displays boards about prohibiting child labour.

“One of the residents complained to us recently that there was a young boy employed as domestic help. But the residents’ association defended the act, saying that the boy was not underaged. Such attitude has to change as there can be no compromise in the safety of children,” he said.

Childline 1098 is a 24-hour toll-free emergency phone service for children in need of care and protection in India.

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