A Tour in an Unexpected Place

A blurb from my Travelogue… a moment of mental imagery…

“It was as if I was a giant in a strange land in which adults didn’t exist. For about 10 minutes of following our guide through these narrow and cramped passages, we saw only young children, from infants up to about 6 or 7 years of age. There was a little shop, no bigger than a cupboard, selling random goods and candies, and the only person present to manage it was a little girl about the age of 2 or 3. She was precious beyond belief, and as we walked by she said, “hello” and reached for a handshake. It was the most bizarre thing and thinking about it now makes me shake my head in wonder.  How is that possible? These areas are a western parent’s worst nightmare; to have their children situated in this setting, unattended for hours, and running the family shop. ‘Doom’s day’ to most. The differences are evident.”

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4 thoughts on “A Tour in an Unexpected Place

  1. That was very observant of you. Most people would pass by without a second thought. That child was likely a victim of bonded child labour and was forced to work to pay off a debt owed by a family member, most likely a parent or grandparent. That debt will likely never be repaid, and could be for as little as $20.

    From antislavery.org

    Bonded labour – or debt bondage – is probably the least known form of slavery today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan.The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week. The value of their work is invariably greater than the original sum of money borrowed.

    Debt bondage was also used as a means of trapping indentured labourers into working on plantations in Africa, the Caribbean and South-East Asia, following the abolition of the slave trade.

    • lifeaschad says:

      It was inside Dhuravi, the huge slum near Mumbai. I feel that it would be atypical for that process to be happening inside their slum neighborhood. Thoughts?

      The interaction with that little one, compared to the children in the heart of Mumbai, felt a world more pure. It is my belief that it wasn’t a child debt repayment.

      The kid carrying the dead infant in Mumbai, now that’s a different story.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Bonded labour is endemic in India. I suspect it was a case of bonded labour.

        A few years ago, I had the opportunity to photograph Colin Gonsalves at a lecture in Vancouver. Mr Gonsalves is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and the Founder Director of Human Rights Law Network. He has successfully brought a number of cases dealing with economic, social and cultural rights in India. Most of those cases decided by the Supreme Court were set as precedents.

        After his lecture I had the opportunity to speak with him about bonded labour and poverty in India. He confirmed my research and provided additional detail of which I was unaware. The problem is worldwide and occurs in the most unlikely of places. It is truly tragic.

      • lifeaschad says:

        Definitely tragic. Thanks for sharing.

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