Hyderabad: When children become the currency to repay a loan, something must be terribly, terribly wrong. Three months ago, 13-year-old Meena and six-year-old Uma, the first and third among five girl children, were left at the house of a man from who their parents had borrowed Rs. 34,000 nine months ago. They were unable to repay, so they gave the children in exchange, as a surety, till such time that they would try and get the money.
“My mother gave me Rs. 20 and said they would come and take us later,” says 13-year-old Meena. She and Uma have been at the home of Jehangir in Mahatipur village in Karimnagar district, where they worked like bonded labour for the ironsmith.
Villagers who noticed the children being badly abused complained to the police. Meena has told the police she was sexually abused by Jehangir when his wife was away.
Jehangir admits the parents left the children with him because they could not repay the loan that now amounts to Rs. 45,000. He, however, denies sexually exploiting the child.
“I looked after them like my own children. They are saying wrong things. The parents said they were not able to repay the money. So I should keep the children till then,” he says.
A case of wrongful confinement, outraging modesty and under the Bonded Labour Act has been filed. The children have been handed over to the child welfare committee. The parents of the girls who live in Macharam in neighbouring Nizamabad district are being contacted.