Saturday, 3 November 2012

Bengali Wedding Rituals...... A Traditional Bengali Marriage Ceremony

The tying of the nuptial knot in traditional Bengali style entails a series of elaborate and colorful rituals, which are not only enjoyable but are of great significance in conjugal life.

The blowing of the conch shell and ululation by the women gathered at the wedding venue are most characteristic of a Bengali marriage. Shehnai recital played by live musicians or else played over a music system adds to this symphony. The purpose is to draw the attention of all and sundry to the wedding and also to summon the invitees. It is also a kind of social declaration from the family to the rest of the society.

Ashirbaad - On an auspicious day the elders of the groom's side go to bless the bride and vice versa, by sprinkling husked rice and trefoil on their heads and giving them gold ornaments. It is a kind of acceptance of the boy and the girl on both sides.

Aai Budo Bhaat - A bachelorette party for the bride before the D-day thrown by relatives or friends. It signifies their approval as well, and also encourages community feeling.

Holud Kota - A ceremony in which five or seven married women of the household grind turmeric with mortar and pestle and anoint the bride with turmeric paste. This brightens up the bride's complexion and makes her skin glow.

Dodhi Mongol - At dawn on the day of marriage seven married ladies adorn the bride's hands with the traditional bangles Shakha and Paula - one pair of red and one pair of white bangles, and feed her a meal of curd and rice, the only meal for the day.

Bor Jatri - The members of the groom's house as well as his friends dress in their best attire and journey to the bride's house where the wedding takes place.

Bor Boron - When the bor jatri reaches the bride's place, usually the mother of the bride along with other members come out to welcome the groom and his family by showing the holy earthen lamp, sprinkling trefoil, and husked rice placed on a bamboo winnow (kula). Then they are served sweets and drinks.

Potto Bastra - After the groom is seated at the chadnatolla (wedding altar and canopy) - the sanctum sanctorum where only the groom, bride and the priest takes their place, the groom is offered new clothes by the person who is to do the sampradaan - a kind of gift to the boy from the girl's side.

Saat Paak - The bride, usually seated on a low wooden stool called pidi is lifted by her brothers and is taken round the groom in seven complete circles. The significance is they are winded up securely to each other.

Mala Badal - After the circles are completed, still sitting high on the piri, the bride and the groom exchange garlands of fragrant flowers thrice. This is the first step in which they accept each other.

Subho Dristi - After garlanding one another the bride and the groom are made to look at each other in front of all the assembled invitees. This exchange of loving glance is to initiate them to be together officially by the society.

Sampradan - The bride then takes her place at the chadnatolla where an elderly male member of the bride's family hands her over to the groom and the couple's hands are bound by the sacred thread amidst recital of Vedic chants and are placed on the mangal ghot - a brass pitcher filled with water that is covered with mango leaves attached to one twig and a green coconut placed on it.

Yagna - The bride and groom sit in front of the sacred fire and chant mantras after the priest. Agni, the fire god is made the divine witness to the marriage.

Saat Paak - Seven circular rounds are taken by the couple around the fire thereby solemnizing the occasion.

Anjali - An offering to the fire is made. The bride's brother puts puffed rice (khoi) in the hands of the bride, and the groom standing close to her holds her hands from the back and extends their arms forward. They then pour the offering into the fire together.

Sindoor Daan and Ghomta - Once again seated at their respective places in chadnatollathe groom applies sindoor or vermilion (a symbol of marriage worn by Hindu women thereafter) on the bride's hair-parting. The bride then covers her head with a new sari offered by the groom as ghomta or veil.


Bidaay - This is a farewell - mixed moment of joy and sorrow as the bride is bid adieu with blessings of her parents and relatives to start a new life with her beau.

Kaal Ratri - After the couple reaches the groom's house and the initial welcome ceremony is over they are separated for the night, probably to get a refreshing sleep and prepare for the next day's final wedding ceremony.

Bou Bhaat & Bodhu Boron - The girl cooks and serves all the members of her husband's family. A banquet is held to treat the guests who lavish gifts on the new bride.

Phool Shojja - The couple is adorned with flowers and are left together alone in their room to enjoy conjugal bliss on a bed laid with flowers.

Main Problems of Indian Women.

The main problems of Indian women includes:

Generally in India, women are the one who eat last and least in the whole family. So they eat whatever is left after men folk are satiated. As a result most of the times their food intake does not contain the nutritional value required in maintaining the healthy body. In villages, sometimes women do not get to eat the whole meal due to poverty. The UNICEF report of 1996 clearly states that the women of South Asia are not given proper care, which results in higher level of malnutrition among the women of South Asia than anywhere else in the world. This nutritional deficiency has two major consequences for women first they become anemic and second they never achieve their full growth, which leads to an unending cycle of undergrowth as malnourished women cannot give birth to a healthy baby.
Poor Health
The malnutrition results in poor health of women. The women of India are prejudiced from the birth itself. They are not breastfed for long. In the want of a son the women wants to get pregnant as soon as possible which decreases the caring period to the girl child whereas the male members get adequate care and nutrition. Women are not given the right to free movement that means that they cannot go anywhere on their own if they want and they have to take the permission of male member of family or have to take them along. This results in decrease in women's visit to doctor and she could not pay attention to her health as a result.

Maternal Mortality
The mortality rate in India is among highest in the world. As females are not given proper attention, which results in the malnutrition and then they are married at an early age which leads to pregnancies at younger age when the body is not ready to bear the burden of a child. All this results in complications, which may lead to gynecological problems, which may become serious with time and may ultimately, lead to death.

Lack of education
In India women education never got its due share of attention. From the medieval India women were debarred from the educational field. According to medieval perception women need just household education and this perception of medieval India still persists in villages of India even today. Girls are supposed to fulfill domestic duties and education becomes secondary for them whereas it is considered to be important for boys. Although scenario in urban areas has changed a lot and women are opting for higher education but majority of Indian population residing in villages still live in medieval times. The people of villages consider girls to be curse and they do not want to waste money and time on them as they think that women should be wedded off as soon as possible.

The main reason for not sending girls to school is the poor economic condition. Another reason is far off location of schools. In Indian society virginity and purity is given utmost importance during marriage and people are afraid to send their girl child to far off schools were male teacher teach them along with boys.

The lack of education is the root cause for many other problems. An uneducated mother cannot look after her children properly and she is not aware of the deadly diseases and their cure, which leads to the poor health of the children. An uneducated person does not know about hygiene this lack of knowledge of hygiene may lead to poor health of the whole family.

In India violence against women is a common evil. Not just in remote parts but in cities also women bear the brunt. They are subjected to physical and mental violence. They are the one who work most but are not given their due. The women is not safe anywhere neither at home nor at workplace. Every hour a woman is raped in India and every 93 minutes a woman is burnt to death due to dowry problem. There are many laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, to protect women and punishment is severe but the conviction rate of crime against women is very low in India.

Indian women work more than men of India but their work is hardly recognized as they mainly do unskilled work. Their household chores is never counted as a work, if a woman is working in a field to help her husband it will also be not counted as a work. A study conducted by Mies in 1986 states that in Andhra Pradesh a woman works around 15 hours a day during the agricultural season whereas a male on an average works for around 7-8 hours.

Lack of power
In India a large percentage of women do not have power. They cannot take decisions independently not even related to their own life. They have to take permission of male members for each and every issue. They don't have any say in important household matters and not in matter of their own marriage.

The family mainly fixes the marriages in India. The scenario in villages is very bad. The girl is not consulted but is told to marry a guy whom her family has chosen for him. They are taught to abide by the whims and fancies of their husbands. Going against the wishes of husband is considered to be a sin. In marriage husband always has the upper hand. The groom and his parents show as if they are obliging the girl by marrying her and in return they demand hefty dowry.

It's a serious issue. Courts are flooded with cases related to death due to dowry harassment by husband and in laws. In ancient times women were given 'Stridhan' when they departed from the house of their parents. This amount of money was given to her as a gift which she can use on her and her children but her in-laws did not have any right on that amount. This amount was supposed to help the girl in time of need. Slowly this tradition became obligatory and took the form of dowry. Nowadays parents have to give hefty amount in dowry, the in laws of their girl are not concerned whether they can afford it or not. If a girl brings large amount of dowry she is given respect and is treated well in her new home and if she does not bring dowry according to expectations of her in laws then she has to suffer harassment. Due to this evil practice many newly wed women of India have to lose their lives.

Female infanticide/foeticide
As women were supposed to be and in some areas of India are still considered to be curse by some strata of society their birth was taken as a burden. So in past times they were killed as soon as they were born. In some of the Rajput clans of Rajasthan newly born girl child was dropped in a large bowl of milk and was killed. Today with the help of technology the sex of the unborn baby is determined and if it is a girl child then it is aborted down. In all this procedure women do not have any say they have to do according to the wish of their husbands even if she does not wan to abort she have any choice.

The divorce rate in India is not so high compared to western countries but it does not mean that marriages are more successful here. The reason behind low level of divorce rate is that it is looked down by the society. It is regarded as the sign of failure of marriage, especially of women. She is treated as if she has committed some crime by divorcing her husband. In some communities like Muslims women did not have the right to divorce their husband they were divorced at just the pronouncement of " I divorce you" by their husband thrice and they could not do anything except to be the mute spectator. Recently Muslim Law Board has given right of divorce to women. After divorce women is entitled to get her "Mehr" for herself and her children's sustenance. In Hindu society women get maintenance for themselves and their children after divorce.
Though there are problems in the lives of Indian women but they are always ready to fight all the odds and enjoy their life to the full they have their own talent, hobbies, and they socialize according to Indian customs.

Some information adapted from Journal..... STB Team


Ei Golpo ti " Trina " naam er ak meyer. Tar boyosh 10 bochor. Tina'r baba  nei, sudhu maa achen. Trina, tar maa ke khub bhalobashe. Trina'r maa er naam "Malati". Malati Trina ke or kaka'r kache sohor ey pathaye. Kaka babur naam " Biren". Biren er kolkata sohor ey akti chaa er dokaan ache. Trina kolkata te elo, mon ey onek swapno niye. Kintu tar kopale atota anondo hoeto chilona. Biren, Trina ke nijer chaa er dokaan ey cup porishkar koranor jonne nie eshechilo. Baccha meye ta tai mene nilo. Or jibon ey sudhu ekti chawa i chilo j o proti ti robibaar (sunday) nijer maa er sathe phone ey kotha bolbe.

Din-er-por din kete gelo. Trina kaaj kore gelo. Trina jeikhane kaaj korto, tar samne i akta STD booth chilo. Trina proti robibaar booth ta te jeto r phone er dike takiye thakto. Booth er maalik er naam " shyamal ". Shyamal ok dekhe proti shoptahein (every week) Trina ke call korte dito. Kintu erom bhabe beshidin chollo naa. Shyamal Trina ke bollo j ei shoptaho (this week) ta, o shesh call korte parbe. Porer shoptah (next week) theke ok taka diye call korte hobe. Eta shune Trina hotaash holona.

Proti ti din o 10paisa kore jomate laglo. Onekdin por Trina or rumaal ta khullo, koto taka jomeche, eta dekhte. Ekti mishti haashi diye Trina mon ey mon ey bollo:- 2 taka. Kono kihu chinta naa kore sei STD booth tar dike chutlo. Dokaan ta te pouche, Trina bole uthlo:- " Shyamol Jethu, Shyamol Jethu, ami 2taka nie esechi. Ebaar maa er sathe kotha bolte dao? ". Shyamol tokhon bole uthlo:- " Khuki 2to taka te ki hobe? Amar dokaan ey call er charge holo 4taka proti 3 minute ". Eta shune, Trina mon kharap korlo naa. Abaar ager moto kaaj korte laglo. Din nei Raat nei. Sudhu kaaj r kaaj.

Onekdin baad ey sei din elo. Trina sokaal ey 6ta ey ghum theke uthlo. snan kore porishkar skirt pore, chul sundor kore bedhey, mandir ey gelo. Mandir theke tip pore shoja Trina booth ta te elo. Trina'r kaache ei din ta onek daami chilo. Booth ey giye dekhlo j booth ta bondo. Trina booth er baerey opekkha korte laglo. Edik Odik, or chokh Shyamal jethu ke khujte laglo. Somoy tokhn shokaal 8ta. Durr theke Shyamal ke Trina dekhte pelo. Dekhe i bole uthlo:- " Jethu aaj ami kotha bolbo maa er sathe, ki moja ki moja". Shyamol Trina'r theke Taka gulo nie gunte laglo. " Puro 4 taka i ache, Shyamol bole uthlo". Trina or maa er number ta Shyamol ke dilo. Shyamol number ta dial korte laglo.

Ring ta shune Trina'r mukhe haashi chole elo. Sei call ta receive korlo Trinar paasher barir kakima. ( Trina ra khub gorib. Phone nei barite. paasher barite phone ache. Sei phone ey i Trina or maa er sathe agey kotha bolto.) Trina bole uthlo- " Kakima Kakima, Maa ke deke debe? Ami Trina." Kakima bollen, accha ektu call ta hold kor, deke dicchi. Trina aaj sei din ta te dariye chilo jetar jonne or onek opekkha chilo.

Sob thik oi bhabe i hocchilo jei bhabe Trina cheyechilo, Kintu hotath call ta dis-connect hoe gelo. Shyamol bole uthlo:- Khuki, 3 minute hoe geche. R o kotha bolte hole r o taka lagbe. Trina eta shune dukkho pelo. Chup Chap Biren kakar dokaan ey giye boshe porlo. Raat hoe gelo. Mon kharap kore Trina raat err khabar o khelona.

Porer din sokaal  holo. Biren bole uthlo:-"  Koto cup dhutey baaki, Trina ta o mone hocche kaaj korte parbena. Maa Maa kore i morlo. Ebar kake diye dhowabo cup gulo? "

Tokhn i akti gola shona gelo:- " Ami porishkar korbo". Biren takiye dekhlo Trina tar purono skirt ta pore abar cup gulo niye boshe porlo r tar pashe 10paisa. 

Honor Killing in India

An honor killing or honour killing (also called a customary killing) is the murder of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators (and potentially the wider community) that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community. Honour killings are directed mostly against women and girls. The perceived dishonor is normally the result of one of the following behaviors, or the suspicion of such behaviors:

    1. dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community,
    2. wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own   choice,
    3. engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as inappropriate, and
    4. engaging in homosexual acts. Women and girls are killed at a much higher rate than men.

Recently, there has been a spate of honor killings in the country and this has led the government to decide what laws should be put in place to stop this heinous crime. Also whether the Hindu Marriage Act should be reformed or not is being debated. So what is the definition of honour killing and what leads families to commit this heinous crime so that they can protect their family honour? Is this practice prevalent only in India or is it prevalent in other parts of the world also? What are the misconceptions regarding honour killing and what are the solutions to stop this crime from spreading? These are the questions that society find the answer…

In my opinion Honour killing is defined as a death that is awarded to a woman of the family for marrying against the parent’s wishes, having extramarital and premarital relationships, marrying within the same gotra or outside one’s caste or marrying a cousin from a different caste. Honour killing is different from the dowry deaths that are also a very common practice in India as, in the case of dowry deaths, the perpetrators of that action claim that they have not been given enough material rewards for accepting the woman into the family. In that case there is a lot of harassment from the in-laws and more times than one, it has been noted that the wife commits suicide rather than being killed by the in-laws, though it has to be said that she has been mentally killed, if not physically. We have had a tradition of honour killing. This tradition was first viewed in its most horrible form during the Partition of the country in between the years 1947 and 1950 when many women were forcefully killed so that family honour could be preserved.

Now, there are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter in the name of preserving their family honour. The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because of the fact that the caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their attitude to marriage. According to them, if any daughter dares to disobey her parents on the issue of marriage and decides to marry a man of her wishes but from another gotra or outside her caste, it would bring disrepute to the family honour and hence they decide to give the ultimate sentence, that is death, to the daughter. Now as has become the norm, the son-in-law is killed as well. Sociologists believe that the reason why honour killings continue to take place is because of the continued rigidity of the caste system. Hence the fear of losing their caste status through which they gain many benefits makes them commit this heinous crime. The other reason why honour killings are taking place is because the mentality of people has not changed and they just cannot accept that marriages can take place in the same gotra or outside one’s caste. The root of the cause for the increase in the number of honour killings is because the formal governance has not been able to reach the rural areas and as a result. Thus, this practices continues though it should have been removed by now.

There are various misconceptions regarding the practice of honor killing. The first misconception about honor killing is that this is a practice that is limited to the rural areas. The truth is that it is spread over such a large geographical area that we cannot isolate honor killings to rural areas only, though one has to admit that majority of the killings take place in the rural areas. But it has also been seen recently that even the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Tamil Nadu are not safe from this crime because 5 honor killings were reported from Delhi and in Tamil Nadu; a daughter and son in law were killed due to marriage into the same gotra. So it can be seen clearly that honor killing is not isolated to rural areas but also to urban areas and as already pointed out, it has a very wide geographical spread. The second misconception regarding honor killing is that it has religious roots. Even if a woman commits adultery, there have to be four male witnesses with good behavior and reputation to validate the charge. Furthermore only the State can carry out judicial punishments, but never an individual vigilante. So, we can clearly see that there is no religious backing or religious roots for this heinous crime.

What can we do to prevent such a thing from happening? Firstly, the mentality of the people has to change. And when we say that the mentality has to change, we mean to say that parents should accept their children’s wishes regarding marriage as it is they who have to lead a life with their life partners and if they are not satisfied with their life partner then they will lead a horrible married life which might even end in suicide. Secondly, we need to have stricter laws to tackle these kinds of killings as this is a crime which cannot be pardoned because. Humans do not have the right to write down death sentences of innocent fellow humans.

Extramarital Affairs...

The term ‘extramarital affair’ is actually a tactful way to describe terms such as ‘cheating,’ ‘unfaithful,’ and ‘committed adultery.’  The most commonly assumed definition of ‘extramarital affair’ is that two people were in a monogamous relationship, and one of them had sex with someone beside their spouse.

When a couple decides to enter into a relationship, usually they both intend to remain faithful to each other.  Granted, there are people who get into relationships who can’t be faithful to anyone, but these are exceptions.  For the most part, people in relationships want to remain faithful, and, when one or both of them has an extramarital affair, the relationship is permanently changed.  If the couple stays together after an affair, trust will always be an issue.  If the couple divorces, they start new lives, including new relationships which may or may not remain monogamous.

The Beginning – A Bright Future
The beginning of a relationship is the most optimistic time for a couple.  They have each met someone who has similar interests and goals in life.  During the courtship phase of a relationship, just about everything seems new or more enjoyable than before.  They may take a weekend trip to a city that one of them visited many times before, but, with the new partner, they can both have a unique experience because they are doing it with each other for the first time.  At this point, extramarital affairs are the last things on their minds.
A memorable example of this situation was seen in the film “Annie Hall.”  In this film, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton try to cook fresh lobster.  As they place the lobsters in boiling water, the scene becomes a comedy of errors.  Later in the film, after Woody Allen and Diane Keaton have broken up, he creates the same scenario with a woman who appears to have no sense of humor and the experience is horrible.  The moment has been lost because the new relationship is much different than the one that has ended.

A newly formed couple who has made a mutual commitment will engage in experiences that are not only newly enjoyable, they help to solidify each person’s decision to become a couple.  The couple can look forward becoming engaged and getting married.  They can also look forward to ending what may have been a long and frustrating search for a compatible partner.  Again, extramarital affairs are not even thought about at this time.

The Middle – Boredom and Temptation
After the couple settles into their marriage, life can become mundane and predictable.  The newness of the relationship has ended, the planning and  excitement of getting married is over, and life starts to become routine.  The couple knows each others likes, dislikes, and behavior patterns.  Their work lives may have little variation, and each day feels the same.  A married couple may let their lives slip into mediocrity.  This results in boredom and apathy.  The couple feels that there is nothing to look forward to, and their lives together will remain dull and commonplace.  Briefly, they may contemplate an extramarital affair to relieve boredom.

It is at this point that the couple needs to take stock of their situation.  There may be nothing wrong with them, but married life can get boring – unless the couple works to keep their life together new and interesting.  The focus needs to be on the couples’ future life together.  Many couples think that having an extramarital affair, an open marriage, or bringing a third person into the relationship will be the solution.  However, it is common knowledge that an alternate situation to traditional marriage tends to result in the dissolution of the marriage.

In addition, the Internet can be a significant temptation and conduit for extramarital affairs.  Websites advertise thousands of available people, and discreet meetings for the sole purpose of having sex can be arranged within minutes.  Issues of trust, betrayal, and abandonment usually accompany such activities; the issue of monogamy is now at a crisis with the committed couple.

The End – Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Ideally, a couple won’t have to face the end of their marriage.  If they remain faithful to each other, avoid extramarital affairs, and they keep their marriage interesting and passionate, there will be no need to make a decision regarding the future.

Extramarital affairs irreparably damage a marriage.  When one person cheats, the other person will always find that they do not trust the unfaithful partner as much as they did before the affair took place.  When a couple begins to have problems with their marriage, they are well advised to see a marriage counselor.  A good professional counselor can help them fix countless problems and work on marital issues; however, once an extramarital affair has taken place, the marriage becomes damaged, often beyond repair and divorce ensues.

Child Labour..

Child labour is the employment of children under an age determined by law or custom. This practice is considered exploitative by many countries and international organizations. child labour was not seen as a problem throughout most of history, only becoming a disputed issue with the beginning of universal schooling and the concepts of workers' and children's rights.

Child labour can be factory work, mining or quarrying, agriculture, helping in the parents' business, having one's own small business (for example selling food), or doing odd jobs. Some children work as guides for tourists, sometimes combined with bringing in business for shops and restaurants (where they may also work as waiters). Other children are forced to do tedious and repetitive jobs such as assembling boxes or polishing shoes. However, rather than in factories and sweatshops, most child labor occurs in the informal sector, "selling on the street, at work in agriculture or hidden away in houses - far from the reach of official labor inspectors and from media scrutiny."

The most controversial forms of work include the military use of children as well as child prostitution. Less controversial, and often legal with some restrictions, are work as child actors and child singers, as well as agricultural work outside of the school year (seasonal work).

Protect our children... Stop child labour
Child labour continues to exist throughout the world. Children work because their survival and that of their families depend on it, and in some cases, because unscrupulous adults take advantage of their vulnerability. child labour is also due to weaknesses in education systems and is deeply rooted in cultural and social attitudes and traditions. The problem is further compounded by the fact that child labour remains hidden from public view, making the problem seem less of a priority.

What can be done about child labour?

There are many approaches, and no single magic solution. Here are some suggestions.
1. Prioritise primary education It is no coincidence that the countries where child labour is worst are those that spend least on primary education. Primary education should be free, compulsory, well-resourced, relevant and nearby. It is much easier to monitor school attendance that to inspect factories and workshops. Sponsoring a child doesn't solve this problem - it might make us feel good, but it only helps educate one child, isolating them from others in their community.

2. Regulate global trade The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the international body charged with overseeing and enforcing the rules of world trade as drawn up during the four decades of GATT negotiations.

Given the impact that globalisation combined with economic rationalist policies have had on workers' wages, conditions, safety standards and basic rights, the global union movement is calling for additional regulation of international trading laws.
Trade unions globally are pushing for a set of rules stipulating the minimum labour standards to be included in the rules of world trade enforced by the WTO. Including core labour standards would enforce several key ILO Conventions such as the right for workers to join a trade union and bargain collectively, and the banning of child labour, as well as banning slave labour, prison labour and discrimination in the workplace.

3. Get rid of poverty Many things are needed to overcome global poverty, but two urgent steps are:
a) Get rid of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs): When a country has a balance of payments difficulty, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) implements a SAP for that country. This IMF program usually demands cuts to government social spending such as health and education, spending cuts which impact hardest on the poorest.
b) Restructure Third World Debt. The repayments of the poorest and most indebted countries should be redirected into spending on local health and education rather than to Western bankers. An international campaign aims to cancel the debts of the poorest countries - see the Jubilee Australia website for details and to get involved.

4. Strengthen unions Trade unions also play a crucial role in preventing and eliminating child labour. Adult workers who have the right to organise, negotiate and bargain for a living wage do not have to send their children to work. Where strong unions exist, child labour is diminished. Unions not only strongly oppose child labour on the grounds of social justice, they also resist the hiring of children at wages that undermine their own.

5. Consumer education As consumers, we are the driving force behind the global economy - let's drive it the right direction. We can raise awareness, we can question stores about the labour conditions under which their goods were made, and we can demand proper labelling. If they can tell us what's in a product, they can also tell us who made it. Where labelling exists (eg, Rugmark for hand woven carpets) support these products. Pester multinational companies to adopt codes of conduct for themselves and their subcontractors.

6. Ban the worst forms of child labour Demand the government support the ILO Convention 182 banning the worst forms of child labour such as bonded labour, work in heavy industry or with dangerous substances and commercial sexual exploitation.

7. Give the jobs of child workers to their adult relatives This way, the family does not suffer, and indeed should be better off, as adult wages are generally much higher than child wages.

8. Campaign on specific industries It's hard to take on the whole global economy, so just work industry by industry. Recent ACTU and international union campaigns have involved sporting goods made by child labour, medical instruments made by children (often exported to Australia) and the gem polishing industry in India where children polish diamonds, often sourced from Australia's Argyle diamond mine. Another recent campaign has involved the role of children in citrus juice production in Brazil.

9. Join the Fair Wear campaign Where exploitative child labour does exist in Australia, it is predominantly in the outsourced clothing industry. The Fair Wear Campaign is a coalition of unions, churches and community organisations. It works in association with the Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union and uses consumer pressure to fight for the rights of all homebased outworkers. Contact the Fair Wear Campaign for further details.

10. Education and training for women All studies show that when women are educated, trained and empowered, the incidence of labour by their children, especially girl children, drops dramatically. Your union's overseas aid agency, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA - has many projects assisting skills training for women. Support them.

11. Our overseas aid The Australian government's overseas aid budget is approximately $1.8 billion per year. This should give it leverage to encourage other governments to enact and enforce adequate legislation banning child labour. We need to demand that a greater share of this budget goes to non-government aid agencies for primary education and teacher training, rather than to big, for-profit companies and to subsidising middle class students to study in our universities.

12. Get more data While the ILO has collected a lot of data on child labour in recent years, there are still many gaps. We need more data especially in those "hidden" areas such as domestic servants, on farms or with home-based out-workers.

Not necessarily in this order:
1. Increased family incomes
2. Education - that helps children learn skills that will help them earn a living
3. Social services - that help children and families survive crises, such as disease, or loss of home and shelter
4. Family control of fertility - so that families are not burdened by children
The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for children to participate in important decisions that will affect their lives.
Some educators and social scientists believe that one of the most important ways to help child workers is to ask their opinions, and involve them in constructing "solutions" to their own problems. Strong advocates of this approach are Boyden, Myers and Ling; Concerned for Working Children in Karnataka, India; many children's "unions" and "movements," and the Save the Children family of non-governmental organizations.
Child Slavery and Child Labour

Ask most people about slavery and they'll tell you it's a thing of the past with only rare, unfortunate occurrences today. But what most people don't know is, there are more people living as slaves than any other time in history, including the four decades of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. That is, an estimated 27 million people live in bondage. Of that figure, it can only be estimated how many are children: five to six million.

Exacerbated by extreme poverty, children are often sold into slavery by their parents or guardians. Along with paying desperate families for a child, parents are promised the child will receive food, shelter, clothing and a proper education. In many cases, however, parents are unwittingly pushing their children into a dismal life of slavery. They may never see their child again.

Children work in agriculture, domestic work, industry and the sex trade. The cocoa industry in West Africa, for instance, is one of the most notorious employers of child slaves. Young boys, ranging in age from 12 to 16, are coaxed from their villages with promises of money and a better life. Once on the farm, the children are kept against their will and work in inhumane conditions to harvest cocoa beans to sell to the world market. Child slaves are also used to manufacture cotton, rugs, and silk, among other things.
Many child slaves denied an education, freedom of movement, and freedom of information. They are confined, beaten, and terrorized and are forced to work in dangerous conditions that often result in life-long injuries. Because poverty is so widespread, children are seen as disposable and are often fed just enough to be kept alive. It seems there is always a desperate family that could be enticed to sell a child. On average, slaves are sold for US$90.

While millions of children are slaves, 246 million more are child laborers. The difference between the two is faint. Child labor is an activity performed by a child for which he/she receives compensation, no matter how little. Child labor can range from children combing landfills for things that can be recycled to children who harvest sugar cane in a field. At least 120 million children work full-time, 61 percent in Asia, 32 percent in Africa and 7 percent in Latin America.

Some children are born into bondage and are forced to follow a parent's trade. Bonded labor also occurs when a child is forced to work to pay off a debt. Many times children incur "expenses" at their workplace, for food and shelter for instance, and are unable to pay off the debt.

Both child slavery and child labor cause physical and psychological damage for children. Many children attempt to escape and return home again, only to be forced into similar situations. Others live on the streets to avoid punishment and re-enslavement. In rare circumstances, children are rescued by aid and non-profit organizations who attempt to secure them a better future. Chocolate Covered Child Labour
Most of our children play with teddy bears, children in West Africa play with Machetes. Why? So you can enjoy your cup of coffee.

Coffee culture is rapidly growing and the demand for chocolate never seems to stop. For every bar we buy more children are forced into child slavery on cocoa farms. Over 67% of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa. As the trading wheel of injustice spins, children are tortured, farmers go hungry, and large companies such as Nestle and Cadburys make a profit. When we consume more chocolate the demand for cocoa increases, and so farmers can make money to feed their family from the fruits of their labor.
Unfortunately that is not the case as it's the corrupted trading system which dictates the price.

Instead global companies charge high prices for their products but refuse to pay a fair price for cocoa beans, the primary ingredient needed for the coffee and chocolate they sell. As a result farmers sell their beans to middlemen who then negotiate trading prices to sell on to companies. Farmers only receive half the amount of money the beans are originally bought for as the middleman receives the rest. In most cases they do not make a profit. Desperate farmers transform into corrupted farmers and become involved in the business of child trafficking. Young children wandering the streets of Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire are lured by traffickers who promise them a life where they can earn an honest wage so they don't go hungry.

Opportunity knocks at the wrong door as children are then abducted and sold to farmers as slaves.
They are forced into painful work, long days in inhumane conditions without pay and with little food. Work includes using machetes to cut the cacao pods from high branches, and applying pesticides without protective equipment. Dangerous days and fearful nights is the typical day in the life of child slaves. Young children are psychologically deceived into staying on the farm. If they are brave enough, attempting to escape back home to their parents, they are beaten, whipped, and tortured.

According to Global 240,000 children have been sold as slaves in West Africa to work on coffee, cocoa, and cotton plantations, and according to a US State Department Report 15,000 of those children are aged between 9-12. While our children attend school the children we have forgotten dream of such opportunities. These children don't receive their basic right to an education instead they have a tortured life of abuse and daily beatings so you can have your Mars bar.

It's a tricky cycle to break as cocoa beans produced by slaves are hard to detect. Once the farmer gives his goods to the middleman to sell, the beans are taken to a warehouse and mixed with beans produced by paid workers. At this stage companies play the blame game by stating they have no way of detecting which beans are from slave free farms. If we refuse to use all cocoa then farmers would be under more pressure which would result in more cases of child slavery.

Global companies need to make their products fair trade. If they pay the farmers a minimum wage, farmers are obliged to form an agreement which states their working standards are democratic with no slavery involved, and their cocoa is of good quality. Direct business will mean the middleman is no longer needed and farmers can reap what they sow. It all sounds very fair and simple, so why don't all products have the fair trade label on? Because companies like Nestle are quite happy making $65 billion a year.
While we blissfully sip our hot chocolate, we are tasting the blood of another child.


Mother is half of the Father/Mother team, the one who gave birth to you as a child. When she first held you in her arms, she fell madly in love with you! She is the one that changed your diaper, gave you your bottle, bathed and dressed you. She is the one who tended to you when you were sick, wishes she could have bore your pain, but unable to even share it with you. There is none like a Mother.

If you have children, then you know what it's like to be a Mother. Often, it's a tough job, with unruly children, and many heartaches before they are grown. Sometimes a Mother is lucky that she has well-disciplined children, but only because she has done her best in order for them to be well-adjusted teenagers and later adults. Mostly, Mother sits and worries that she hasn't done her best with her children, especially if they don't turn out as she thought they should, with all the training she had given them.

Mother is a human being, capable of making mistakes. She is not perfect, just as none of us are perfect. But she is the one that we picture as being perfect during our childhood. As we become older, we realize that Mothers are capable of right and wrong ways of doing things, missing the mark, just as much as the next person. But she is still Mother. The thing that sets her apart is her everlasting love for her children and her intent that they lead normal, well-adjusted lives.

Not until we become adults, do we really begin to appreciate WHO Mother really is. She has nurtured you through your childhood, put up with your sassy ways and times of being lazy during your teenage years, and cried through your becoming an adult. But Mother was always there to encourage you when you made a mistake, although sometimes it's hard not to show disappointment {I am sure I've done that}.

As we grow older and have our own children, we realize that Mother was a very strong person, and we begin to wonder can we ever fit into her shoes. No, we wear our 'own shoes'........we can never do things the same as our Mother, although she has given us the pattern from which to build. IF we have a Godly Mother {I did!}, then we can bring up our children in the ways of God, so that when they grow older we have the assurance that some day they will live for God. After all, Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the ways he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Mothers are special. Is your Mother living today? If so, try to make this Mother's Day the most wonderful day of her life! Show her you care if only by telling her you love her. Take her out to eat, take her flowers, but show up on Mother's Day, if possible. You will never know how much this helps Mother to realize her family still cares. Sometimes we get busy doing the usual things in life, and lose sight of the most important aspects - loving our family. And Mother happens to be where that 'family' began. Without Mother, there would never have been a family. You might also tell Daddy that you are so happy that he chose Mother to be his wife. Make his eyes light up as well..