Case study 1 - Rambho (India, 2004)

Child slavery

Some very poor families in India and Pakistan are lured into handing over their children to work in the carpet industry. The employers promise to provide work and education for the children, and say that the children - mostly boys - will be able to send money home to their families. Once they arrive at the workplace, though, the boys are forced to work for no pay, for 10-19 hours a day, six or seven days a week.

Rambho (India 2004)

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Rambho is 11 years old. He used to play with his friends who lived near their home, but his family were very poor, and they were persuaded to hand him over to an employer for a small sum of money. Once he was in their hands, he was trapped. He was treated badly by the employers and had to work for 19 hours a day weaving carpets on a loom. He was released by an organisation called Bal Vikas Ashram which helps and cares for liberated children, and teaches them how to protect themselves before they go back to their villages.

Rambho's story

The owner of the loom came one day to my house and gave 700 rupees (about £10) for me. They told my parents that they were going to educate me and make me do some work. I didn't want to go but there was no money at home for food, so my mother told me to go.

After two days I reached the loom and they told me to learn how to use it. If I made any mistake, the loom owner used to beat me with a stick. I kept asking the loom owner when I would go to school, and he kept telling me: "There is no school for you. You will spend time weaving carpets."

I used to work from four in the morning till 11 in the night. I wasn't allowed to play. All we did during the day was weave carpets, eat food, and go to sleep. I was there for one year.

The owner used to tell us: "If the police ever come, run away before they can catch you." So I knew that when the police came I'd be taken away from there. When I saw them coming I was very happy. As soon as they came, the owner and his father and his brother and all the other people ran away. About 10 of us were surrounded by the police. Six of us ran away but four of us were brought to the Ashram. When I came here I liked it because you get time to eat, you get time to play, to study. I like studying the most.

I haven't seen my mother for 13 months and I miss my family a lot. My father has passed away. I want to help my mother find a house. I want to go to my village and be a guard there. And I won't let anybody go to the looms, even by mistake. I'll tell them: if the children make any mistakes they beat them up. I won't let them go there.

Questions and discussion points

  • What do you feel about Rambho's parents?
  • Why did the loom owner beat Rambho?
  • Why do you think the loom owner took Rambho to work at a place two days away from his home?
  • How do you think the Ashram made Rambho feel?
  • What would you like to ask or say to Rambho?

 

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