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From The Editor: Of human bondage

| Updated on October 20, 2013 Published on October 20, 2013

Half of the 29 million children and adults across the world who are forced into labour live in India. The inaugural slavery survey by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation defined slavery as including human trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage and prostitution, the exploitation of children and debt bondage. Many are trafficked within the country; many others are tied over ancient debts to local landowners or are born into slavery because of caste, social and hereditary obligations. The latter lack economic mobility and with it, any hope for escape.

We have been trained to ignore images of children working at shops we frequent or of bonded labourers at brick kilns. So the slavery index probably doesn’t shock. What is really distressing is that just last week, India refused to co-sponsor a United Nations human rights council resolution against child marriage. In India, where every second bride is a child, there is a law criminalising marriage for girls under 18 years.

We have the Right to Education Act which says every Indian child between 6 and 14 years has to go to school. Despite this, the government’s failure to fully support the resolution and implement it strictly contradicts its own legal obligations to its citizens. That it is shying away from a commitment to protect its own citizens is deplorable. Much more deplorable, in fact, than its poor record in implementation.

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Published on October 20, 2013
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