Regardless of the law loophole, its is a culturally accepted practice to have young girls employed as nanny's even though they should be enjoying their own childhood.
From Time Magazine, writer Nilanjana Bhowmick introduces us to one such nanny.
Asha's day starts at 8 a.m., when she wakes up and makes breakfast for the family she lives with as a nanny in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. She takes the kids down to play, feeds them, bathes them and puts up with their tantrums. Asha is around 14 years old — a few years older than the children she minds. Neha, 12, works as a daily maid for a family in New Delhi. her day starts in the kitchen, where she struggles over the high sink every morning to wash the breakfast dishes. Like Asha, Neha has never been to school, and like Asha, she is one of hundreds of thousands of child laborers believed to be working as domestic helpers in homes across the nation.
Hiring young children to work as nannies and maids in India is increasingly common. It's also illegal. In 2006, India banned the employment of children below the age of 14 in homes and restaurants. And though the law has gone largely ignored by thousands of employers, it is getting more attention on national and international levels. Earlier this week, a U.S. State Department report on human trafficking indicted India for its lack of commitment to the issue, coinciding with a June 15 statement by a trial court in Delhi about the need to punish agencies that recruit children, along with child workers' family members. "We have lost our national conscience," says Shantha Sinha, chairperson for the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). "Otherwise why would educated people break the law at every moment by employing minors as domestic help and behaving like they are doing the children a favor?"
The Trafficking in Persons Report 2009, released on Tuesday, gave India a Tier 2 rating for the sixth consecutive year, citing that India has not been able to suppress human trafficking, "particularly bonded labor." According to a 2001 census, an estimated 185, 595 children are employed as domestic help and in small roadside eateries, a number that is believed to have grown today. Most child domestic workers in India are trafficked by placement agencies operating in poor states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The agencies pay families in advance for their children and then place them at jobs in cities, tying the child to the agency until he or she pays off the money given to his family. The June court statement issued out of Delhi was over the case of local couple who had been accused by police of hiring and ill-treating a 15-year-old girl working as their maid. The couple pleaded that they did not know the girl was a minor, and that the placement agency told them that she was over 18. The case put the spotlight back on the thousands of illegal agencies operating in the Delhi and surrounding region, and the need for a regulatory body to monitor their activities. Out of the 5000 odd placement agencies in the area, only 33 are registered.