Over 80 percent of child labourers in Kolkata underage girls: NGO

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 12:30 hrs

Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) Kolkata has more than 50,000 child labourers, out of which 80 percent are underage girls, says an NGO.

"EIghty percent of the 50,000 child labourers in the city are underage girls. Their families often send them away to earn money but it is seen that they are actually trafficked to other states," said Samapt Maity of the Jayaprakash Institute of Social Change, a leading city-based NGO involved in social research, training and advocacy campaigns.

Statistics reveal that of 12 million girls born in India, one million do not live to see their first birthday and every sixth girl child's death is due to gender discrimination.

Besides trafficking, child marriage and child sexual abuse is a burning topic that needs to be addressed, according to sociologist Ruchira Goswami.

"There are so many laws pertaining to marriage, child marriage and harassment but they need to be put on a single platform. People are aware of the laws but they do not follow them," she said.

Every member of the society needs to pitch in and do their bit to collectively fight violence against women and the girl child, said social workers at the seminar to commemorate 'SAARC Girl Child Week' in the city.

"We can not do all the work by ourselves. Violence against women and the girl child is rampant. We want every member of the society to help us out in their own way," said Sanlaap executive director Indrani Sinha.

According to social workers, one can't simply blame the police and the government for not entirely solving problems regarding women and children in West Bengal, a state ranking seventh when it comes to child marriages.

"It is a collective effort. Each one of us has to contribute. Be it police, the government or the people. We can't just blame the authorities for not being able to solve the problem completely," said Sinha at the district-level seminar held as part of the commemoration.

The seminar, "Girl Child - Their Vulnerability and Our Action", brought together all the stakeholders of society -- the administration, police, civil society organizations, common people, students, academicians, celebrities and industry people who are fighting for the cause.

"It has not been a fair deal for women. We need to change and work against such gender discrimination. Empowerment of women should be made priority," said Anurag Srivastava, additional district magistrate (development), South 24 Parganas district.

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