An Activist Tries To Get A Handle On The Extent of Illegal Child Labor In India

Oct 10, 2014

Credit Zoriah / Flickr

Today, Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with longtime activist against child labor Kailash Satyarthi.

Last week, Satyarthi's son, Bhuwan Ribhu, was in Milwaukee to speak on his work on child labor issues, as a guest of the Institute of World Affairs at UW-Milwaukee.

You may remember the outcry a few years ago when it was discovered that many of the clothes manufactured for the retailer The Gap were being assembled by child labor in India.

Numerous children, working essentially as slaves, were rescued from their situation. The government of India eventually compensated the released child laborers.

But for every well-publicized reform, thousands or even millions of instances of forced child labor go unreported. At the center of the effort to stop illegal child labor is activist Bhuwan Ribhu, of the organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, based in India.

"The government believes that there are about 4.9 million children that are illegally employed," Ribhu says. "We believe that the number can be as high as 35 million because there are 35 million children who are out of school. And they're of school going age, so they must be employed somewhere."