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India's "nowhere" girls. Voices of girls 1: India.

Authors
  • Joshi, S
Type
Published Article
Journal
People & the planet
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1998
Volume
7
Issue
3
Pages
26–28
Identifiers
PMID: 12321765
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

In India, a 12-year-old girl rises before dawn to complete household chores before heading off to work in the fields herding animals or plucking weeds. When this work is unavailable, she migrates to quarries or brick kilns with her landless parents. This scenario is not unusual, as millions of Indian girls are denied schooling so they can contribute to their family's income. Child agricultural laborers are invisible in official statistics, and girls have a harder life than their brothers who have no household duties and are given more to eat. A large number of girls work in factories or homes producing matches, incense, cigarettes, locks, or brassware or polishing gems. There are no statistics describing how many girls are domestic servants in Bombay or rag-pickers, fish-cleaners, or beggars, but an estimated 500,000 girls under age 15 work as prostitutes. Child labor is defined as work that is detrimental to a child's growth and development, and there are 20-100 million child laborers in India. In Bombay, most girl laborers live and work in conditions that threaten their health, and they experience malnutrition and its attendant diseases as well as occupational hazards. Girls also suffer from the son preference that reduces the amount of time girls are breast fed, the amount of health care they receive, their access to education, and their marriage age. Legislation against child labor has proved ineffectual and will continue to be useless until poverty is reduced in India, educational statutes are enforced, and other policy issues are addressed.

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