Migrant children, as young as four, are being pushed into exploitative situations in the tourism industry, with this vulnerability intensifying as they grow older, a report has found. The report ‘Walking the Tightrope- Exploitation of Migrant Children in Tourism in Goa’ by Equations, Bengaluru, in collaboration with Caritas Goa, Centre for Responsible Tourism, Child Rights Goa and Jan Ugahi, was released on Tuesday.
Tourism allows children to be part of the invisible labour force, exposing them to the risk of being exploited economically, physically, sexually and emotionally. The study has found the contribution of migrants to the economy is not recognized and the community continues to be oppressed, discriminated against and sexually exploited in their struggle for survival and earning a livelihood.
A total of 658 respondents covering 14 slums, including migrant families and their children, members of tourism industry, tourists, district and state government department’s law enforcement agencies and members of the community were interviewed during 2014-15 for the study that explores the links between children, tourism and migration. The study found 82% of migrant households surveyed don’t earn the minimum wage, forcing them to live a hand-to-mouth existence. 34% draw a monthly family income below 5,000, while 48% earn between 6,000 to 10,000 a month.
North Goa collector Nila Mohanan, who released the report, said that migrant children are somehow left out of the realms of health, education or protection of children’s rights. These discussions are often limited to children of those who can keep governments accountable. “As a society we’ve a responsibility towards each and every migrant child or otherwise but somehow we fail to live up to that responsibility. We’ve been struggling with this problem across government departments. I don’t think there is enough initiative being taken on the issue of migrant children,” Mohanan said, adding one of the contributing factors to this neglect of migrant children was the lack of information in terms of data and statistics. “The report will go a long way in addressing the gap and alerting society, departments and stakeholders.”