In Chitrakoot, minor girls (aged 12-14) from poor families are forced to work in illegal mines but the contactors and middlemen don’t pay then daily wages easily. These girls have to trade off their bodies in exchange for their wages. “We are helpless, we agree to it. They give us a job, exploit us and then don’t pay us our wages full. When we refuse their sexual advances, they threaten they will not employ us any longer. What will we eat if we don’t work? We eventually agree.” – A resident of Karvi. Another victim, a resident of Dafai says, “The contractors don’t reveal their names and if we refuse their advances they threaten to throw us down the hill.” Their parents are aware of this exploitation but say they are equally helpless to do anything. Feeding the family is daily struggle. “They have put some beds behind the hill near the mines. They take us down there and take turns to exploit us. We have to go there one by one. When we refuse they beat us. It pains, we scream but we bear it. What else can we do? We feel sad about all this and think of dying or running away.”
“If we go to the mines without make-up, the contractors ask what we do with our wages. What can anyone do with Rs. 100?”- Another girl of Karvi.
The provisions on the Indian Penal Code do not reach these hills in Chitrakoot, neither do laws whose sole purpose are to protect children from sexual abuse.
Fed up with the rampant, many women have stopped working and sending their daughters to the mines. Dr. Vishesh Gupta, chairperson of UP Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said, “We have taken note of matter and we will send a team to investigate this.”
RS Pandey, ASP Chitrkoot, said, “We have not heard of any such incident. We are fully alert ad have asked the village guards to remain vigilant and report every incident in the villages. We are gathering information.”