Millions of migrant workers in India are forced to take drastic measures to survive.
Parents – mothers, especially – have an innate desire to want to protect their children. But what does one do when they earn a peasant’s wage and have no way to look after their kids while working?
If you’re one of the millions of peasant workers in India, you do what must be done to survive: you tie your young one(s) to a rock or a tree to keep them from wandering into traffic and dying.
To people in the West, the reality sounds horrific. But reportedly, it’s a common practice for some of the 40 million construction workers – 1 in 5 which are women – in India who work nine hours a day in sweltering heat. Their day’s wage of £2.50 per is nowhere near enough to provide for child care, let alone basic necessities, so struggling parents resort to drastic methods of containing their children.
According to The Independent, the woman in the photo above, Shivani Kalara, tied her child to a rock so she and her husband could dig holes for electricity cables. Every day the barefoot toddler sits in the dust tugging at the 1.4-meter plastic tape marked “caution” which wraps around her leg. The 23-year-old mother from Ahmedabad told Reuters that there is no other option.
“I tie her so she doesn’t go on the road. My younger son is three and a half so he is not able to control her. This site is full of traffic, I have no option. I do this for her safety,” she said.
Countless families do the same with their children during the daytime. Life is mostly work, work, work with little play. In fact, many of the families live on-site. Some sleep in tents, but many – like Shivani’s family – sleep in the open.
The living conditions are neither optimal for the parents or the children.
Prabhat Jha, head of child protection at Save the Children India, believes that the government needs to step in to help. Jha told the press:
“There should be creche facilities, either from the government or the construction companies. There should be a safe place for these children. They are at real risk of being hurt.”
Unfortunately, little is being done to ensure the safety of the construction workers and their offspring. What you’ll be frustrated to learn is that the companies thrive by hiring cheap labor, often made up of members of the same village who have no proper training. They are often left to work with little oversight and few safety provisions.
As a result, the mothers might take quick breaks during the day to feed their children, but they’re given little opportunity to do much more than that. What’s worse, their overseers could care less about how the conditions are causing millions of people to suffer.
Said Mrs. Kalara:
“They don’t care about us or our children, they are only concerned with their work.”
Once again, humanity’s greed reveals itself.
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