x 112 cm
oil on canvas
Rescuing the children from
factories can be dangerous and disturbing. To the factory owner the
children are valuable assets that save him thousands of rupees by
working long hours for free. He has to keep them hidden, so they
generally live, work and sleep in the factory, often working twelve to
fourteen hours a day for two bowls of rice and a bowl of dahl.
Many activists have been beaten
and shot at as they try to gather the children to take them to safety.
Often the factory owners tell the children that if they do not work hard
enough the police will come and take them off to jail. When BBA arrive,
accompanied by police, the children are frightened and try to run back
to the security of the factory. When they finally arrive at the rescue
home they are confused and traumatised, not knowing who to trust.
Just before my visit to Mukti
Ashram Rescue Centre, 55 boys between the ages of 8 and 14 had been
rescued. The calm as I arrive is eerie. The boys sit uneasily on a wall
around an open yard, murmuring quietly and staring warily at anyone who
comes near. Some boys sit huddled together, sticking with those they had
known in the factory, others silently on their own.
three boys, rescued from a recycling plant, had worked from 9am to 10pm
six days a week sorting discarded plastic rubbish by colour. They speak
of the injuries they received from beatings and how they had slept on
the factory floor. Although happy to be rescued, they just want to go