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Additional Information

A young girl carrying a basket of stones while working in a quarry

Caste System

The urban people in India are probably less strict about the caste system than in the rural areas and they may be seen mingling together. But in the rural areas discrimination based on the caste system and sometimes also on untouchability can be quite obvious, which often leads to violent clashes and caste tensions. The privileged upper castes need their cheap labour and someone to do the dirty work, such as cleaning sewers and working on the rubbish dumps.

Bonded Slavery

India is estimated to have a third of the world's poor with poverty widespread throughout the nation. The latest UNICEF data shows that one in three malnourished children worldwide are found in India, while in 2010, the World Bank reported that 32.7% of all people in India fall below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day (PPP) while 68.7% live on less than US$ 2 per day.

Debt Bondage

One of the biggest tragedies in India is Debt bondage. This applies to children “sold” by their parents to an employer or a brothel. They then end up been treated like slaves, tied to work off a debt bondage for minimal or no wage, for a period of time that could end up being a lifetime. This is most prevalent in agricultural areas with farmers taking small loans with interest that can exceed 100% of the loan per annum. The sad reality of this is that the debt that binds these children to their employer is incurred not by the children themselves, but usually by a parent and sometimes even by a relative or guardian.

Human Rights Watch

In a report was written by Lee Tucker, a consultant to Human Rights Watch - With credible estimates ranging from 60 to 115 million, India has the largest number of working children in the world. Whether they are sweating in the heat of stone quarries, working in the fields sixteen hours a day, picking rags in city streets, or hidden away as domestic servants, these children endure miserable and difficult lives. They earn little and are abused much. They struggle to make enough to eat and perhaps to help feed their families as well. They do not go to school; more than half of them will never learn the barest skills of literacy. Many of them have been working since the age of four or five, and by the time they reach adulthood they may be irrevocably sick or deformed-they will certainly be exhausted, old men and women by the age of forty, likely to be dead by fifty.

Child prostitution
Young Indian girls working in a brothel

NEW DELHI — Like many Indian girls, Suchitra was taught her future profession by her mother. In her village, there was only one path. Even before she had reached puberty, Suchitra had learned different sexual positions and other ways to please a customer. At age 14, a man she had never seen before showed up one day at the family’s house near Bharatpur in northern India. At her mother’s urging, Suchitra got into his car. Six hours later, they reached their destination. It was a brothel in New Delhi’s red-light district. She had been sent into sexual servitude.


Whole families from some castes at the bottom rungs of the country’s social hierarchy rely on income from their daughters’ sex work, with fathers and brothers often acting as pimps. The girls often have their virginity auctioned to the highest bidder once they reach puberty.


Ultimately, the key to extracting women from a world of sexual slavery is schooling, said Ms Soumya Pratheek, who works for Apne Aap, a Delhi-based group that campaigns against sex trafficking in India. Some 73 per cent of children aged 11 in schools in the state of Rajasthan are unable to subtract and 79 per cent cannot recognise numbers between 10 and 99, according to the 2012 Annual Status of Education Report.


Pyramid graph of caste system