Sunday, 19 August 2007
Raj Mahal Circus rescue
Today the Esther Benjamins Trust circus rescue team entered the Raj Mahal Circus, Raipur, Chattisgarh, with representatives of (the excellent) ChildLine India and around 60 members of the Indian police. The aim was to rescue between 20 and 30 Nepalese circus performers who are trapped in one of India's most abusive circuses. Only six girls could be released in the end, the circus holding on to the rest - including six minors (under the age of 14). The circus resisted the rescue attempt on the grounds of the old excuse that they are not an industry (they see themselves as "entertainment") and so are exempt from child labour legislation. Their defence has been supported by the Labour Department of Chattisgarh state government; no doubt someone at the circus has paid for this support. We are now calling in all the legal and media support that we can summon to win this battle.
I have been frustrated at not being able to join the team due to non-availability of flights to India but I will try again tomorrow as this could well be a protracted incident. I distracted myself this afternoon by going with Alisha and Bev to visit the children at our Kathmandu refuge. She is such an extrovert. Afterwards we fitted a mosaic to the wall of the children's common room, a mosaic sponsored by one of the Trust's supporters in the Irish Republic. The kids were delighted.