Target: Shri Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of State with Independent Charge of Ministry of Mines
Goal: Put an end to deadly child labor in India’s illegal mica mines.
Seven children have recently been killed while working in India’s illegal mica mines. Children as young as 5 enter the dangerous mines so they can pick the popular mineral used in cosmetics. They face fatal risks due hazardous materials and mine collapses. They also face abuse at the hands of their employers and intimidation in order to keep the mines and their work secret.
While child labor in mines is illegal in the country, 70 percent of India’s mica comes from illegal mines. These mines are unregulated by the Ministry of Mines. As a result, it is much easier for impoverished families, including young children, to find work in them without meeting legal consequences. These workers face exploitation, abuse, and pay as low as $1 a day (although one kilogram of the coveted mineral can sell for up to $2,000).
It is estimated that about 20,000 children make up part of the workforce in illegal mica mines. Their small hands and bodies are “ideal” for picking the mineral. However, roughly 10 mica miners are killed a month. In one month, 20 were killed, including three children. The next month, four children were killed. The number of fatalities could be much higher, as less than 10 percent of deaths in the illegal mines are reported to authorities.
These children work up to eight hours a day, both inside the mines and outside as they cut the mica. The money they make is small, yet significant to their families who live in regions with high poverty rates and are dependent upon the mica industry. Authorities at the mines claim that they do not employ children, and label them as “volunteers” who simply aid their parents as they do the work in the mines. This is untrue.
Sign the petition to urge Shri Piyush Goyal, the minister of India’s Ministry of Mines, to crack down on the exploitation of child labor in the nation’s illegal mica mines. Urge him to take steps to regulate the illegal mines and ensure the well-being of their workers so that no other child has to die simply for a mineral used in makeup.
Dear Mr. Goyal,
Recently, 20 miners were killed while working in India’s illegal mica mines. Three of these fatalities were children. The following month, another four children were killed as they picked mica to be used in cosmetics, electronics, and paint. About 20,000 children find work in these illegal mica mines. They face abuse, illness, and death. They make roughly $1 a day, while the precious mineral can sell for up to $2,000 per kilogram. Their small hands and bodies are exploited for the ease of extracting the mineral, while their childhoods are taken advantage of and put at risk.
I urge you to take action to stop the illegal mica mining industry’s child labor. Simply regulating these mines and placing operators at their sites would do much to end the exploitation of child laborers. Regulating the pay miners are given for their work would also be a step towards ending child labor. If miners made a living wage and earned more, they would not need their children to work in the mines in order to supplement their small income. Children deserve this time in their lives to be children, to go to school in a safe classroom, and not go to work in an unregulated, crumbling mine.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Parent Géry