David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
NEW DELHI, India –“Not just kids playing in the dirt or using a hammer as a toy”, Harvard fellow and trafficking expert Siddharth Kara told Becky Anderson of CNN.
As the Commonwealth games approach, the Indian government has been marred by construction delays, corruption scandals, a fever outbreak due to sweltering temperatures, the failure of a footbridge near the main stadium and security concern after last weekend’s shooting where two tourists outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid mosque, reported John Coats of the BBC
New evidence has surfaced showing children from age seven being used in the preparation stage of building.
In the exclusive interview with CNN International, Harvard fellow and trafficking expert Siddharth Kara reported that child labor was a widespread and well known issue in New Delhi. He also stated that he tried numerous attempts to contact the Dehli department of labor, with no success.
In a few day of observation Kara documented 32 cases of forced labor and 14 cases of child labor, all for production interconnected with the Commonwealth Games.
Kara, a renowned expert on the subject of human trafficking, also outlined the harsh conditions these children were forced to work under. “The children I saw were the ones where I felt I had documented child labor — where children were working, picking up hammers, banging stones, paving entry ways and planting grass along the roads to beautify them, hours and hours at a time. I documented children aged seven, eight, nine, ten years old working alongside their families in this mad rush to get the construction completed.”
Kara reported that, “[t]he conditions are sub-human and that’s really the only word I can apply,”…”[t]hey live in the dirt, they go to the toilet behind bushes and trees …[t]he children, especially the young ones, don’t have a sense of what’s going on. They’re told to do the work and they just do the work. They don’t know that they should be in school or that they should be playing.”
Several Indian unions have launched attacks against the government in effort to stop the dangerous labor practices done in preparation for the Games. Many of the same Indian unions have ruled out claims about child labor being used at the construction sites.
Based on government figures there is an estimated 13 million child laborers currently in India. Earlier this week Thursday, as part of an international commitment to eliminate child labor, India announced it had prepared a roadmap to eliminate the worst forms of “bonded labor, hazardous work, drugs, prostitution, trafficking by 2016”.
The Australian Olympic committee President John Coates, expressed on the Australian radio Friday that, “the Games shouldn’t have been awarded to New Dehi”. And due to an under resourced Federation, they don’t have the man power to monitor progress.
Athletes have withdrawn their Commonwealth participation because of health and safety concerns. Notable athletes include Australian world discus champion Dani Samuels and English world triple jump champion Phillips Idowu.
Delhi has had seven years to prepare, though very little work was done until 2008.
For more information, please see:
TIME – Let the Games Not Begin – 24 September 2010
CNN – Hard Evidence of Child Labor at 2010 Commonwealth Games – 24 September 2010
BBC – Games should not have gone to Delhi, says Australia – 24 September 2010
AFP- CGames: Child Labor Help ‘beautify’ Dehhi streets – 24 September 2010