A New Beginning - Getting children out of cotton fields
An estimated 414,000 children, mainly girls, are working in India’s cotton industry.
Mani Thyappa from Raichur was “beaten like a donkey” when she tried to chat with other children working in the cotton fields
“He scolded us with bad words and would strike us on the legs, back and shoulders
At age 12, Mani like thousands of other children in Raichur was forced to leave school and got caught in a relentless cultivation cycle of cotton in summer,
Mani is one among an estimated 414,000 children, mainly girls that are working in the Indian cotton industry alone. About half are less than 14 years old,
Often, the kids suffer respiratory and other health problems caused by exposure to pesticides, extreme heat and physical stress. Some are also even beaten or sexually abused by employers. Children are
An IKEA’s Social Initiative program in partnership with UNICEF and government of India
It is hoped that by 2011 about 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 working children between the ages of six to 14 in Raichur and a neighboring region will be back at school
Since 2006, IKEA’s initiative has been tackling the child labour issue around India by building public awareness about existing laws that forbid it.
Now a fresh campaign around Raichur has mobilized UNICEF, government and partner NGOs to fan out to hundreds of villages for public rallies,
In Mani’s case, a local UNICEF partner and villagers influenced by awareness campaigns convinced the girl’s parents and employer to free her under threat of legal penalties, including jail.
“Finally, I was free and could talk with my friends again,” Mani, 14, says now with obvious delight as she shows off her new schoolbag
Mani’s family is doing its best to pay off the remaining loan and child labour laws will also be on their side.“I do want my daughter in school,” she adds. “I know she’s happy there. I don’t want her to work,” Sundamma adds.
At Yeragera Higher Primary School, where Mani now studies, headmistress Janhavi Muralidnar says about 50 children have returned to classes there since the recent campaign against child labour began last year
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