Thursday, 27 February 2014


BANGALORE, February 23, 2014

Updated: February 23, 2014 13:22 IST

What’s this ‘other’ reason for out-of-school children in Karnataka?


H.R. Umesh Aradhya, chairman, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said there was a need for the Education Department to read in between the figures.

Even as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has found that 1.7 lakh children are out of school in Karnataka, Education Department officials are yet to get clarity on why children drop out of school in nearly half of these cases.

In the data sheet, the reason for dropping out in 47.70 per cent of cases (which accounted for 81,351 children) has been categorised as “other.” SSA officials have decided to examine this and see what exactly these “other” reasons are so that they can frame suitable policies.

An official, who attended the meeting to chalk out policies to mainstream the children, said further break-up of the “other” category would be provided in about a week. While “migration” has been the reason for 29,491 children (17.29 per cent) to be out of school, the other common causes are “involvement in household work” (27,808 students or 16.30 per cent), “engaged in other work” (9,488 or 5.56 per cent) and “school far away” (5,441 or 3.19 per cent).

Interestingly, some reasons have been gender specific and those including “marriage”, “puberty” and “other reasons related to girl child” have been calculated only for girls.

A larger number of boys are out of school because they had taken up jobs. As many as 2,873 girls and 6,615 boys are out of school as they are engaged in work.

H.R. Umesh Aradhya, chairman, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said there was a need for the department to read in between the figures.

“A large number of children are out of school because of migration and 33.36 per cent of them are from five north Karnataka districts. A majority of people who migrate are construction and agricultural labourers,” he said.

Also, there is no clarity on the 1,904 children, who have been reported dead.

SSA officials said these children’s names were on the rolls on March 31, 2013, and they were reported dead when the survey was held in November.


Saturday, 22 February 2014


BANGALORE, February 22, 2014

10-day-old boy rescued, thanks to alert neighbours


Alert neighbours helped the city-based BOSCO Childline rescue a 10-day-old boy from allegedly being sold to a childless couple by his maternal uncle and mother in Taverekere on Thursday.

The rescued boy has been shifted to Shishu Mandira and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) is looking into the issue of rehabilitating the baby.

The baby’s mother, a 35-year-old homemaker, resides in Gangavathi with her two daughters aged eight and 13 years.

Enquiries by the BOSCO Childline staff revealed that her husband is a labourer migrating to different places in search of work and visits home once a year. .

The woman came to Bangalore to her brother’s house at Herohalli in Taverekere in the city two months before the delivery of the child. She then delivered the baby boy in a private hospital. Her brother allegedly contacted a childless couple and clinched a deal for Rs 2.5 lakh.

Meanwhile, the accused was discharged from the hospital about a week ago and was about to return to Gangavathi when the neighbours got a hint that the baby was in the process of being sold. The BOSCO Childline staff took an undertaking from the woman that she does not want to take the baby back. “Since the baby has been shifted to Shishu Mandira for three months, the CWC has to decide upon the future course of action,” Bosco Executive Director Fr. George P.S. told The Hindu .

CWC member Shivamallu, who is handling the case, said that though the mother is not keen on taking back the baby, the committee is looking into the rehabilitation of the infant. The family has been summoned to appear before the committee for further enquiries.

·  Rescued boy shifted to Shishu Mandira

·  Child Welfare Committee to look into rehabilitation of the infant


Monday, 17 February 2014

SC Takes Up Karnataka Case on Primary Education in Mother Tongue

By Kanu Sarda - NEW DELHI

Published: 13th February 2014 07:43 AM

Last Updated: 13th February 2014 07:43 AM

The Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions to decide whether mother tongue or regional language can be imposed by states as the medium of instruction for primary school students.

A Constitution Bench headed by Justice R M Lodha will also decide whether setting up an authority to determine the mother tongue of a child seeking education in schools is a restriction of fundamental rights or not.

The Karnataka government’s 1994 Language Policy had made Kannada the medium of instruction. Since then, there have been a series of cases between private English-medium schools and the state government.

HC Had Upheld Decision

In 1993, a Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice M N Venkatachalaiah and Justice S Mohan upheld the government’s decision.

In 2008, the Karnataka High Court struck down sections of the Language Policy that made the mother tongue the mandatory medium of instruction, ruling that parents were free to get their children educated in any language of their choice.

The Karnataka government challenged before the Supreme Court the High Court’s decision to strike down the clauses. 

A Division Bench of the Supreme Court referred the matter to a larger bench last year.

Advocate General Ravi Varma Kumar, who appeared for the Karnataka government, stressed that the state had the Constitutional obligation to provide instructions to people in way of regulation.

Citing various provisions, Kumar told the Bench how important it was to protect minority rights and institutions. “Primary school language should be one’s mother tongue and not English, for, English is an alien language,” he said.

“The state has the power to regulate and the right to oppose restrictions is the right of the state,” Kumar said, while concluding his arguments.

The Bench will on Thursday hear the managements of various schools who opposed the state’s decision to include mother tongue in schools.



BANGALORE, February 16, 2014

Updated: February 17, 2014 00:19 IST

‘Penalise school for violating RTE Act’


NPS-Banashankari conducts test for admitting students

A school in Bangalore South could be in the dock for violating the Right to Education Act (RTE) by conducting a test for admitting students.

The National Public School, Banashankari, is accused of violating a section of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, by conducting entrance test for admitting students. Section 13 of the RTE Act states that no school can subject a child or his guardians to any screening procedure while admitting the child to school.

Following complaints, the Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has written to the Department of Public Instruction to impose penalty of Rs. 25,000 on the school for conducting screening procedure for children.

Chairperson of KSCPCR H.R. Umesh Aradhya, said: “We received a complaint from a parent who said that they were conducting an entrance test. Though the school claimed protection for being a minority school, investigation revealed that they are not a minority school.”

Even minority schools have to implement the RTE Act and the only exemption is that they do not have to admit children under the 25 per cent quota, he added.

Vani Kantli, the mother of a five-year-old boy, whose complaint triggered action against NPS, Banashankari, said: “I received an e-mail from the school that my child had been shortlisted for the admission test. I refused to send my child for the test and decided to file a complaint.” The DPI should penalise the school for the welfare of students and parents who are left with no option but to concede to the demands of schools, she said.

The school stated on the website that they were conducting entrance test for students who wish to obtain admission to the school. .

Meanwhile, Jaya Prakash, coordinator for the Srinivas Educational Charitable Trust that runs the school, justified the school conducting a general test. “We have not rejected any candidate,” he said.

Block Education Officer of South Range 1 Kempaiah said he would take appropriate action against the school management once he receives the KSCPCR proceedings.


'Govt turns blind eye to trafficking of children from Lambani thandas'

Bangalore, Feb 13, 2014, DHNS:

Even as trafficking of children, especially those belonging to the Lambani community, has substantially increased across Karnataka, enquiry reports on the issue have not come out in the public.

Speaking to reporters on the issue here on Tuesday, social activist Nagalaxmi Bai alleged that the State government not only turned a blind eye to the issue, but also failed to make two inquiry reports on child trafficking public. She further said some children from Mookanapalya, Kolipalya and Veeraiahpura in Punajanur village panchayath limits, Chamarajnagar taluk were trafficked.

“Innocent children are falling prey to mafias, in which even some high and mighty are involved. A famous film actor, an MLA from Andhra Pradesh, wife of a senior IPS officer and some middlemen are involved but the government is not keen to protect child rights,” said Bai.

She said that since the last 14 years, minor girls, sometimes newborns, majority of whom belong to the Lambani community, were trafficked to other parts of the country. The latest reports suggest that some children from a few thandas of Chamarajnagar were trafficked through middlemen.

“Superstition and poverty should be blamed for these tragic incidents. There is a need to sensitise the Lambani community,” added Bai.

Talking about various incidents of trafficking, she mentioned the case of a 15-day-old baby girl from Kolipalya born to Anand Naik and Sumithra, who was trafficked via Tamil Nadu. Some local residents and women activists thwarted the bid to traffic another girl child belonging to Basava Naik and Padma Bai.

A couple also sold their child in Mookanapalya the day she was born, she grieved. Bai pointed to a vicious network of child traffickers in Karnataka. She said that way back in 2002, she had written a book, “Babies On Sale”, containing information on the trafficking of 1,800 children from 125 thandas of Gulbarga district who were smuggled out to different parts of the country and abroad with fake documents. She added that presently children are smuggled abroad through Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. 

Bai had filed a Public Interest Litigation earlier also and the government had assured to initiate action. However, the submission made by the government was never implemented.

Advocate Umapathi who was also present said, “The government is attracting contempt of court by not initiating any action. It is sitting on two enquiry reports, which have not been made public even after 12 years.”


Supreme Court asks Karnataka Chief Secretary to take steps to stop 'devadasi' system

PTI Feb 13, 2014, 01.29PM IST


(A 'devadasi' is a woman "dedicated"…)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court directed Karnataka chief secretary to take all steps to prevent women from being forced to become 'devadasis' at a temple function scheduled to be held on Thursday night in Devnagar district of the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam passed the direction on a PIL filed by an NGO, S L Foundation, alleging that 'devadasis' dedication is going to take place at Uttarang Mala Durga temple at Harappanahalli Taluk of Devnagar district.

The bench also issued notice to the Karnataka government and asked it to file a response on the PIL seeking framing of guidelines to stop the tradition of 'devadasis', saying it is a national shame.

The petitioner alleged that the process of 'devadasi' dedication is still prevalent in different parts of the country despite the law against it and pleaded for the apex court's intervention in the matter.

A 'devadasi' is a woman "dedicated" to worship and service of a deity or a temple for the rest of her life.


Saturday, 15 February 2014

India Fares Poorly in Welfare of Children: Report

By Express News Service - BANGALORE

Published: 10th February 2014 08:24 AM

Last Updated: 10th February 2014 08:24 AM

While India has a legal and policy framework to ensure welfare of children, it falls behind South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives when it comes to achieving results in education, health and protection, according to a report.

‘The South Asian Report on the Child-friendliness of Governments,’ which was published recently by child rights advocacy groups, evaluates the efforts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka towards fulfilling the obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Of the eight nations, India is ranked on top for having done the most towards establishing and enabling legal and policy frameworks for children, closely followed by Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, India is ranked 7th in child health outcomes and 4th in education outcomes and child protection outcomes--a result of, “ineffective implementation of an enabling structural framework.”

India’s standing in the region has taken a hit in health, education and protection aspects. For example, India takes the last place when it comes to tackling malnutrition, behind Bangladesh (7), Afghanistan (6) and Pakistan (5).

“In Bangladesh and India, the results remain of serious concern, although both countries have done rather well on reducing stunting,” the report states.

“Almost eight million children in India have not yet been immunised against measles. Routine immunisation remains low in several areas due to lack of planning at the district level, there is a lack of funds to conduct outreach and poor supervision and monitoring systems to track progress,” the report observes.  On the education front, India is ranked 7th in the ‘quality of learning’ index. “The relatively poor quality of teaching in India is reflected in the performance of students: nearly half of the children in grade five are unable to read a second-grade text. Teachers’ absenteeism is another concern, as is the availability of trained teachers for pre-primary and primary education,” the report states.

India’s failure to arrest instances of child marriage, which was banned way back in 1929, is evident in the report, which ranks the country 6th behind Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. Between 2005-2010, 47 per cent girls were married by 18, and between 2000-2010, 18 per cent were married off by 15.

“Most child marriages take place in rural areas and economic factors such as poverty and dowry, gender norms and expectations, concerns about girls’ safety and family honour, and the lack of educational opportunities for girls--are all factors contributing to the difficulty of ending the practice,” the report notes.

These results are not in line with the expected outcomes given that India spends $16326.94 million per annum, highest in South Asia, on education, health, social security, housing and community affairs.

Nagasimha G Rao, director, Child Rights Trust, says the biggest challenge children face is the attitude shown by leaders and parents. “India signed the UNCRC in 1992 and it was also ratified by way of making its articles a part of our laws. However, the problem is the attitude we show towards children who are always tomorrows citizens,” he said.

The report suggests revisiting the legal framework and ensuring the full translation of the CRC and its optional protocols into legally enforceable rights under national laws.


Now, a Child Rights Handbook for Journos

By Express News Service - CHENNAI

Published: 23rd January 2014 08:03 AM

Last Updated: 23rd January 2014 08:03 AM

·         Photos


“Media in India has a general disregard for child rights,” said Pamela Philipose, Editor-in-Chief, Women’s Feature Service.

She was speaking at the launch of a Child Rights handbook for journalists here on Wednesday.

“Children are not considered as citizens with rights. When a sensitive issue comes up, the silent deprivation and back story is ignored by the media,” said the eminent writer.

Other experts in the field also expressed similar opinions. “We can bring the voices and opinions of children to a larger platform,” said Caroline Den Dulk, Chief of Advocacy Communications, UNICEF India.

“The media can play an important role in protecting and promoting children’s rights by exposing their abuse and reporting their triumphs,” she said.

The press institute of India and UNICEF partnered and developed this handbook on child rights for journalists to address the issues in reporting on children.

The handbook was developed after round of consultations with the academicians, senior journalists, child rights experts and writers.

The book was released by Caroline Den Dulk and N Murali, Member, Board of Trustees, Press Institute of India and the first copy was received by Pamela Philipose. Satish Kumar, Chief of UNICEF State Office for Tamilnadu and Kerala introduced the handbook to journalists and said,

“The handbook crisply lists our existing instruments, standards and mechanism for protection of child rights in India. The booklet also offers guidelines for interviewing and reporting on children based on their different needs at different ages.”

In India, poor kids are illiterate despite 4 years of education: Unesco report

Manash Pratim Gohain, TNN Jan 29, 2014, 05.10AM IST


NEW DELHI: In India, even after completing four years of school, 90% of children from poorer households remain illiterate. And this also holds true for around 30% of kids from poorer homes despite five to six years of schooling.

Besides, only 44% of rural students in the Std V age group in Maharashtra and 53% in Tamil Nadu could perform two-digit subtraction. And it will take another 66 years for poor young women of the country to achieve universal literacy.

These are among the many alarming findings in Unesco's 11th Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report to be released on Wednesday, which says that despite progress, most EFA goals are likely to be missed by 2015. According to the report, the pace in achieving universal primary education, lower secondary education and youth literacy is woefully slow for many countries in the region, especially for the disadvantaged. With respect to India, it said while the richest young women have already achieved universal literacy, the poorest are projected to do so only by 2080.

Reporting on the trends in financing education for all, the report states: "Around the world, governments are grappling with ways to reallocate their education budgets to those children most in need. Allocations per child still do not adequately reflect the costs of delivering quality education to the marginalized." In its India analysis, the report says that in Kerala, one of the wealthier states, education spending per pupil was roughly $685. In Bihar, the figure stood at just $100.

The report suggests that new EFA goals after 2015 should set a target for all countries to allocate at least 6% of GNP to education and at least 20% of total government expenditure on education.Though India is among 10 countries that have made the fastest progress in reducing the number of children out of school in recent years, this expansion has also created a learning crisis — a phenomenon apparent in many parts of the world, resulting in 250 million children not learning the basics globally, one-third of whom are in South and West Asia.

Progress is too slow, and particularly for the disadvantaged. Performance in mathematics remains a problem area. In rural India, wide disparities were seen between the richer and poorer states. Even within the prosperous states, the poorest girls showed lower skill levels. In the wealthier states of Maharashtra and TN, most rural pupils reached Std V in 2012. But only 44% of these in Maharashtra and 53% in TN could perform two-digit subtraction.

Besides, widespread poverty in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh affects the chances of children staying in school until Std V. In UP, only 70% of poor kids make it to Std V, while almost all from rich households are able to do so. In MP, 85% of poor pupils enter Std V, compared to 96% of rich children.

One of the reasons for the learning crisis is teacher governance, with the report saying that "absenteeism varied from 15% in Maharashtra and 17% in Gujarat — two richer states — to 38% in Bihar and 42% in Jharkhand, two of the poorest states."


NEW DELHI, January 19, 2014

Updated: January 19, 2014 01:49 IST

In South Asia, India doing well to protect child rights: study


Sri Lanka has the highest score in child-friendliness index

India has done the most towards establishing an enabling legal and policy framework for children in the SAARC region, closely followed by Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka have scored very well on health, education and child protection outcomes including birth registration and chid marriage, says a new survey.

Overall, Sri Lanka has the highest score in the child-friendliness index though all countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, have made important progress in most of the themes covered by the report.

The South Asian Report on the Child-friendliness of Governments evaluates the efforts of the governments at fulfilling the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The survey has been done by the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children — a SAARC apex body.

“A gradual change is happening in South Asia, as governments are taking important steps to acknowledge and implement children’s human rights, often in collaboration with and influenced by a range of non-state actors,” said the report released on the eve of a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation here. This is particularly true in India and Bangladesh but the other governments have also taken some action.

Since 2000 in particular, governments in the region have put in place a basic enabling framework of laws, policies and institutions for implementation of the Convention and made important progress in children’s health and education. However, countries that did the most for putting in place an enabling structural framework have not always been able to ensure good education, health and protection outcomes, nor have they necessarily promoted children’s voices in decision-making at local and national levels.

Despite the progress, 500 million South Asians still live in extreme poverty, and there are great disparities between rich and poor children. Inequalities, gender discrimination and conflicts based on religion, caste and ethnicity deeply affect children, who are also influenced by social norms condoning child labour, child marriage and corporal punishment.

There is need to better ensure children’s legally enforceable right to health, education, protection and participation, and to ensure that the structural framework in place has the power to create change, says the report.

Stronger mechanisms are needed to translate new laws, policies and institutions into meaningful entitlements and services for children; data collection should be used more systematically to track progress; and further collective efforts of governments, inter-governmental organisations, non-state actors, communities and children are necessary, nurturing a cadre of child rights professionals and activists. Of the greatest importance is inclusion of children’s issues at the highest political level in national planning, budgeting and governance.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

NCPCR to launch school project for street children

TNN Feb 6, 2014, 03.35AM IST

RANCHI: In a torn white dress which has turned brown because of dirt, clutching an old plastic bag an eight-year-old Leela was found looking busily for discarded boxes and plastic bottles inside a big garbage bin. If she found some of the items she was looking for then she would sell them and earn money to buy that day's meal.

Leela doesn't harbour a dream to study and grow up to become somebody. She would have loved to be able to lead a life like privileged children her age. But her everyday struggle for food has made her too pragmatic for her age. "I want to go to school. But how can I? I don't have money and if I attend classes how will I earn money? Then what will I eat?" she asked.

To help these street children get their basic rights like food, lodging and education, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Delhi will launch a special project Street to School. The project will be launched in the state by Jharkhand State Commission for Child Rights (JSCPCR) on March 5.

JSCPCR member, Sanjay Mishra, said, "The commission along with various stakeholders like government departments such as HRD, social welfare and various NGOs will work together to make the lives of street children better." He added, "There are many children who spend their lives on streets and have nobody to take care of them. Our project will focus on such children and will connect them to mainstream education."

The programme will focus on four cities in the state - Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Dhanbad as most slum dwellers are found in these places. "We will identify children from slum areas and will create a database. Then we will admit them to various residential schools in their cities. As there are not many government residential schools in the state, we are planning to increase the capacity of the existing schools," said Mishra.

The commission will also approach various private companies and schools and ask them to contribute for the project under corporate social responsibility. "We will be writing to all the private companies and ask them to provide books, clothes and other necessary items for these children under CSR activities," Mishra said.

The responsibility of preparing a blueprint for the project has been given to students of Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi. "Two students of IIM-R are preparing the blueprint of the programme and it will likely be done by the time the project is launched," said Mishra.


87 illegal orphanages in Kerala: Report

Laxmi Ajai Prasanna, TNN Feb 9, 2014, 02.23PM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KHRC) report reveals that 87 illegal orphanages are functioning in the state with no proper monitoring mechanism to ensure child rights at these homes.

"After the report of molestation of a minor girl at an orphanage in Palakkad by the institute's general secretary, the girl's mother had registered a case under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, according to the police. Later it was reported that 17 inmates of the orphanage were molested, but the police feared to take action against the culprit. Then the state human rights commission had decided to go for suo motu investigation," KHRC chairman Justice J B Koshy said.

The state crime records bureau had registered 66 criminal cases of sexual abuse in orphanages and charitable homes in the state in the last 10 years, he said. Of that the maximum number of nine criminal cases were reported from Thiruvananthapuram and the least (one case) from Malappuram.

"Many cases of sexual abuse and violation of human rights of inmates in orphanages and charitable homes go unreported as there are no records or registries about the inmates at these homes or for that matter, any accountability to ensure that the donations received are utilized for the children," he said.

Even in majority of the cases registered there were no efforts to trace the missing children and the police could not track the culprits. And to make matters worse, the orphanages do not have the whereabouts or address of the missing children from these institutions, he said.

State orphanage control board has informed the commission that of the total 1,107 orphanages in the state, 87 are unauthorized or illegal.

"There is no record of the total number of inmates in state orphanages, though it is mandatory under the Kerala State (Orphanage and Other Charitable Homes) Board of Control Rules. Each orphanage is supposed to maintain a proper register recording the details of the inmates and entry register for visitors," Justice Koshy said.

Inquiries are on by the commission's investigation wing led by chief investigation officer DIG S Sreejith to check illegal orphanages and mismanagement of their funds.

Sreejith said, "The report is not finalized. The investigation is on, though the orphanages are reluctant to provide information, including data of inmates and management of funds received. State orphanage control board is the sole agency to monitor the functioning of the orphanages in the state, but some of its members are running it to satisfy their vested interests."

Meanwhile, the commission has also directed the state orphanage control board to submit the details of the functioning of the orphanages in the state within three months.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KHRC) report reveals that 87 illegal orphanages are functioning in the state with no proper monitoring mechanism by the state to ensure child rights at these homes.

"After the report of molestation of a minor girl at an orphanage in Palakkad by that orphanage general secretary, the girl's mother had registered a case under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act according to the police. Later it was reported that 17 inmates of the orphanage were molested, but the police feared to take action against the culprit. Then, the State Human Rights Commission had decided to go for suo moto investigation," KHRC chairman Justice J B Koshy told TOI on Tuesday. The state crime records bureau has registered 66 criminal cases of sexual abuse in orphanages and charitable homes in the state in the last ten years, he said. Of that the maximum number of nine criminal cases are reported from Thiruvananthapuram and the least one case from Malappuram.

"Many cases of sexual abuse and violation of human rights of the inmates in orphanages and charitable homes go unreported, as there are no records or registries about the inmates at these homes or any accountability to ensure that the donations received are utilised for the children," he said. Even in majority of the cases registered, there was no effort to trace the missing children and the police could not track the culprits and worse still, the orphanages do not have the whereabouts or any address of the missing children from their institutions, he said.

State Orphanage Control Board has informed the Commission that 87 unauthorised or illegal orphanages are functioning in the state, among the total 1107 orphanages. "Some of the governing body members of the State Orphanage Control Board are conducting on their own without monitoring the functioning of the orphanages. There is no record of the total number of inmates in the Orphanages in the state, though it is mandatory under the Kerala State (Orphanage and Other Charitable Homes) Board of Control Rules, that each orphanage should maintain a proper register recording the details of the inmates and entry register for visitors," Justice Koshy said.

Further, investigations are on by the Commission's investigation wing led by chief investigation officer DIG S Sreejith to check illegal orphanages and its mismanagement of funds. Meanwhile, the Commission has also directed the State Orphanage Control Board to submit the details of the orphanages functioning in the state within three months.

Child labour: India’s hidden shame

By Shilpa KannanBBC News, Delhi

The law in India is vague on when children can legally work

Rescued from forced employment, 13-year-old Lakshmi is frail and frightened.

Two child protection officers hold her on either side as she walks into the police station.

She was abducted four years ago from her village in north-east India.

Until her rescue, she had been working in people's homes across West Delhi - cooking, cleaning and taking care of children.

"I was not allowed to rest," she says. "If I did something wrong or it was not what they wanted, they hit me.

"If I wanted to sit down for a bit because I was so tired, they would scream at me.

"I was never allowed to leave the house, so I didn't realise that I'm in Delhi. My employers told me that we are in Madras in South India."

Listen to Shilpa Kannan's full report on The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday, 5 February at 22:00 GMT. Or listen again on iPlayer.

As the police and counsellors question her, Lakshmi breaks down. She tells the police that she was sexually assaulted by the men who kidnapped her.

She was threatened that if she told anyone about it, they would tell everyone back home in her village and her honour would be destroyed.

And then, when she started working the agent who arranged her work withheld all her wages leaving her with nothing.

'Lured with clothes and sweets'

Her uncle is just relieved to have found her. A tea garden worker from Assam, he says her parents died when she was young and her grandmother is worried sick about the young girl. He is also angry about the abduction.

"What can we really do? We are poor people - I didn't have enough money to come to Delhi to look for my missing niece.

Kailash Satyarthi (left) is helping families look for their missing daughters

"Unscrupulous agents and middlemen just come into our homes when parents are away working at the tea gardens and lure young girls with new clothes and sweets. Before they know it, they are on a train to a big city at the mercy of these greedy men."

He is not alone. One child goes missing every eight minutes in India and nearly half of them are never found.

Kidnapped children are often forced into the sex trade. But many here feel that children are increasingly pushed into domestic labour - hidden from public view within the four walls of a home.

The government estimates half a million children are in this position.

Demand from middle classes

At a rehabilitation home in northern Delhi run by a charity for children, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, many families have gathered.

I don't want anyone to go through what I did”

Sumila Munda

They are all tea workers from the north-east state of Assam and have come here searching for their missing daughters.

They estimate that just from one particular area - Rangpura in Assam - 16 girls have been lost in the last three to four years.

Helping these families find their daughters is Kailash Satyarti, the head of Bachpan Bacchao Andolan.

"This is the most ironical part of India's growth. The middle classes are demanding cheap, docile labour," he says.

"The cheapest and most vulnerable workforce is children - girls in particular. So the demand for cheap labour is contributing to trafficking of children from remote parts of India to big cities."

This girl was recently rescued after being abducted and forced to work

'Hellish life'

Offering them a ray of hope is the case of 18-year-old Sumila Munda, who was rescued earlier this month. The information she provided led to police arresting a couple of alleged traffickers.

She says she still has nightmares about her employers.

"I don't want anyone to go through what I did. I often wondered if I will ever escape from the hellish life I was stuck in. I had dreams of being in school, studying. Now I will get back to my studies."

Sumila Munda was recently rescued

India is estimated to have more child labourers than anywhere else in the world.

But while abducting children is illegal, the law is vague on when they can legally work. Child labour law does not allow children under the age of 14 to be employed, but anyone under 18 is legally considered a child.

Government helpless

And the government body in charge of children's rights admits they are helpless.

"Unfortunately our child labour prohibition and regulation act is totally outdated," says Kushal Singh, head of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Kushal Singh says the law needs to change

"It says children below the age of 14 cannot be employed in hazardous occupations. Does that mean in non-hazardous occupations a two-year-old child can be employed?

"So obviously it's a very regressive act. This issue has been raised and now an amendment is pending in the parliament. However, it has been pending for a very long time."

If the law changes, it will make the fight against child exploitation a little easier.

But that's no relief for families like these. Many here fear that their daughters may be lost forever.