During the ‘Dominican Month for Peace 2019’, Fr. Bruno Cadore asked our Dominican brothers and sisters throughout the world to focus our prayers and efforts on the huge and complex country of India. The great need in that country is due to the many forms of violence against young people particularly those at the lowest levels of Indian society.
India is the 2nd most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion people and is often thought of as being impoverished. In reality, it is the 7th wealthiest country and has recently been experiencing an economic boom. Unfortunately, the brunt of this boom is born by the bottom levels of society.
The historic Hindu caste system in India is smeared with brutalities by those higher up on the caste ladder and inflicted on those who are below even the bottom level of the four castes. These are the people who are the ‘out-casts’, the Dalits, or ‘untouchables’. They are made to do jobs such as working with carcasses or cleaning toilets which the casted Hindus consider impure or profane. The Dalits, along with some other socially deprived classes, such as the indigenous, are estimated to make up over half of India’s population. It is the children and women of these that are most at risk.
Child trafficking for both sex and labor is extremely prevalent in India, and continues to grow rapidly as the economy blossoms. According to UNICEF, 12.6 million Indian children are engaged in hazardous occupations in India. Legally, children in India are allowed to do light work, but they are easily lured into heavy labor and are often worked far beyond what is legally allowed. Poverty and weak law enforcement are the obvious factors.
Children from the rural areas migrate or are trafficked for employment in industries, such as spinning mills, cottonseed production, manual work, domestic work in family homes, stone quarrying, brick kilns and tea gardens. Often they are required to work in dangerous environments. Those forced into such labor essentially become slaves, and lose their childhood.
Children, especially of the Dalits, are often chosen for the illegal activities of begging and forced organ donation. A significant number of those on the streets have had limbs forcibly amputated, or even acid poured into their eyes to blind them by gang masters. Those who are injured tend to make more money in begging.
The Dominicans in India are focusing on countering the violence they see every day in the deprivation and abuse against children and women particularly among the Dalits and indigenous. May we assist them with our prayers and preaching and may we seek other forms of support for them both financially and in awareness raising. Then as we note the great fragility of the Child in the crib this Christmas, may we see modeled there millions of His brothers and sisters born into the poverty of India.