By Lindsey DeLorie, International New Writer
On Tuesday, January 17, police in the South of India reported the rescue of 200 children from child labor. Some southern states in India, such as Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have become known for child labor, according to Reuters. Activists and police have been trying to crack down on this illegal practice through ‘Operation Smile’.
‘Operation Smile’ is a national movement in India to address the issue of missing children and children in forced labor. Children are used for free labor and for their small fingers and good eye sight when making items such as bangles. According to the International Labor Organization there were 168 million child laborers globally in the year 2015, India contributed 5.7 million of these children.
These 200 children rescued last week were rescued from a bangle factory in Hyderabad. The police in India have been driving the numbers of child laborers down by month long missions twice a year. Many of these children come from poor northeastern states of India.
As reported by Reuters, police commissioner Swathi Lakra stated, “In many cases, parents are only too willing to send their children for work, which works well for the traffickers.” Hyderabad’s district child protection officer, Mohammad Imtiaz Raheem told Reuters that in his district over 2,000 children have been rescued since 2015.
The children that are rescued are placed in a shelter home before being sent back to their families in their home states.
There have been reports that the rescued children have had medical issues such as respiratory illnesses due to their long confinement in small windowless rooms.
“We are investigating the nexus between the employers and the traffickers” Lakra told Reuters. Police and activists are not only focusing on rescuing children in child labor, but also actively focusing on stopping the process of human and child trafficking in the first place.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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