By Sana Altaf [from IPSnews.net] India
SRINAGAR, (IPS) – Fourteen-year-old Shafat Ahmad works as a domestic helper in the house of a Srinagar-based government employee in Kashmir. His younger sister embroiders shawls in an unregistered textile venture in her native village of Beeru.
“When my father first brought me here, my employer promised to send me to school,” Shafat told IPS. Though he is keen to pursue his education, he has yet to attend a single class.
The Ahmed siblings’ story is just one among thousands, as increasing numbers of children across the Kashmir Valley become mired in a child labor epidemic that strips them of their childhood and the chance for a decent education.
Kashmir’s handicrafts industry, which has long served as the backbone of the state economy, has recently gained more sinister recognition as one of the state’s leading employers of child laborers.
A prominent sociologist, B.A. Dabla, told IPS that the shawl industry was a particularly ravenous employer of children, especially young girls, whose small hands are useful for the intricate work of shawl making. Read more