Tourism fuels child labour at Kovalam

TNN | Jan 30, 2014, 01.37PM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tourism has been fuelling child labour at Kerala's famed beach destination, Kovalam. A surprise raid by police and childline coordinators at Eve's beach on Tuesday revealed the presence of a several underage boys and girls brought here for work from Karnataka and Gujarat.

"The children are mostly with relatives who make them do maximum work before sending them to school. We have taken into custody three boys and five such girls," said Ashok J, Childline coordinator.

However, word about the inspection spread quickly and many children managed to escape into backrooms, he said. Tourism season picks up between November and March. Every year the toll-free Childline number receives numerous calls from tourists warning us about the pathetic condition of children managing retail and craft stores on Eve's beach.

"The children are engaged to manage the shops, but we believe when the child is left alone in a store it could lead to abuse, so we helped with the raid," said Rajesh G, a local vendor.

The boys were aged between nine and 12. Two them were from Gujarat and one from Karnataka. The girls were between the ages of 12 to 16; three of them were from Karnataka and the rest from Gujarat. The boys have been sent to Don Bosco shelter home while the girls are at Mahila Mandiram. The mothers of two girls live at Kovalam, while the rest were staying with relatives.

One girl even admitted that she is paid about Rs 4,000 per month, said a volunteer who participated in the raid.

The Child Welfare Committee which will meet on Friday will decide on their future.