A 14-year-old Jharkhand girl allegedly working as a domestic help was rescued by the officials of an NGO and Police from an almirah at a businessman’s house in Gurgaon’s Krishna Colony on Wednesday evening, The Indian Express reported.

She was immediately rushed to Civil Hospital.

According to NGO Shakti Vahini, the girl is from a tribal family in Gumla district and was trafficked to Delhi by an uncle.

Detailing the abuses, the officials said the girl had bruises and a deep cut on her back while as NGO members said the girl’s legs were swollen and had marks near her eyes.

The case has again brought to notice the ugly reality of rampant child labour prevalent in the country despite child labour laws making it a punishable offence. While, according to census data, India has seen a sharp drop in the number of child labourers from 12.6 million down to 4.3 million in the last decade, the incidents like these testify that still a significant part of the battle against child labour is yet to be won.

On the other hand are the amendments brought in by the BJP government in May this year in the Child Labour Prohibition Act whereby it is allowed for the children below the age of 14 to work in select ‘non-hazardous’ family enterprises but not at the cost of their education.

Even though the government said the amendments were made to encourage learning at home as it led to entrepreneurship, child right activists and NGOs have criticised the government citing the law violates Right to Education of a child guaranteed under Indian constitution. They also say it can be used to deny education to the girl child, whose school drop-out rate is almost double than that of boys.

Not only this, the law seems to be missing a major facet of the child labour problem i.e child trafficking and sexual abuse. By pushing more children into work – irrespective of the nature and ownership of the business – the child labour will continue to snatch the childhood and dignity of a child who always remains on the brink of vulnerability and unfavorable work conditions.

Child labour is rooted in poverty and it’s where the government should be looking rather than amending the law. Moreover, the grinding system of child labour is so enmeshed with lack of transparency and un-accountability that it becomes colossally hard for a child to get out of it, even if he/she wishes to.

This is what appears to have taken place in the case of Jharkhand girl who despite facing abuses and violence at her workplace couldn’t do anything.

In her statement to Child Welfare Committee, Gurgaon, the girl said she was only given two chapattis a day and beaten around 4-5 times daily with floor mop. She also said she was assaulted with knife.

As of now Police has started investigation and are questioning wife of the businessman as he is presently not in town.

Even if the abusive employer of this girl is punished, will that end child labour?

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