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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Despite All Odds & Personal Loss, KS Sarojamma Relentlessly Fights Against Child Labor

  • IWB Post
  •  June 12, 2019

As per the Ministry of Labour & Employment statistics, in 2011, over 4.35 million children between the ages of five and 14 were being illegally employed.

Across the country, many NGOs and social activists are tirelessly working towards ending this malpractice and if there’s one state which has made remarkable progress in banning child labor, then it’s Karnataka.

And, the credit goes to one lady, KS Sarojamma, who has religiously worked and dedicated her life to ending child labor. It was in the early 90s that Sarojamma, a researcher by profession then, was visiting a silk manufacturing unit in Magadi, about 60 kilometers west from the heart of Bangalore. She was horrified by the mere conditions of the young children who worked as laborers in the factory.

“There were children as young as six,” she said in an interview. “They would be constantly reminded over loudspeakers to pay attention to the thread and not look away – just like a ringmaster. In one instance, a child’s hair got pulled into the silk spinning machine. It ripped her scalp out. She succumbed to her injuries a few days later.”

She decided to help these kids and rescue them from this barbarity. From 1999 to 2005, she organized many factory raids and rescued over 1,200 child laborers.

Due to her investigation, Public interest litigation (PIL) was issued to a number of factories against their use of child labor, following which approximately 800 silk factories were shut down in Magadi.

Determined to end child labor from its roots, Sarojamma realized that educating the poor is what will truly solve the issue from the core. For this, she started counseling Magadi residents and urged them to stop sending their children to work illegally in silk industries.

Sarojamma also set up Chiguru Balvikas Sanstha for the many homeless girls who were rescued from the silk factories. They were not only given shelter and basic amenities at the Sanstha but were also educated and trained in soft skills.

In this period, her husband, who was a journalist, was murdered for being a whistle-blower in a scandal revolving around the theft of natural resources in the Bandipur forest. It is being alleged that the scandal involved many political names. Sarojamma’s husband was hacked to death, his body chopped into little pieces and unfortunately, nobody was convicted of his murder.

But, this didn’t deter Sarojamma’s work towards rescuing child laborers and giving them a new life. For these children, she’ll always be their ‘Amma.’

IWB salutes the strength, courage, and valor of KS Sarojamma and lauds her dedication towards ending child labor in the country thereby building a better future not only for the children but for India, too.

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