To begin with there is always some amount of resistance from various sections in the village. In the case of bonded labour children working against a debt the resistance is mainly from the employers. Usually these employers tend to be aggressive and on quite a few occasions the situation resulted in physical intimidation as well.
Over the years however MVF has managed to train its village level activists to deal with these situations through a combination of methods. The main strategy is to indulge in some kind of moral persuasion through the village level committees. Advantage is taken of the fact that any issue concerning exploitation of children tends to be an emotional one and the employers are necessarily on the defensive whatever their public postures. Calling the employer’s bluff very often is a good method of handling the situation. But this needs the backing of the community as well as the government machinery.
The MVF as a strategy does not adopt a confrontational approach. In fact the strategy is to involve the employers in a number of programs, honour them when they release their child labourer and make them sponsor other children publicly. The strength of the MVF in adopting this apparently ‘soft’ stand arises from the fact that in the MVF’s area of operation the community is fully aware that no issue concerning a child labourer will be avoided even if it results in a situation of confrontation. Employers therefore, know that the MVF’s approach results not from a weakness but from a sense of confidence. It is this aspect that has added strength to the MVF’s conscious policy of not allowing a situation of confrontation detract it from the main issue of redressing the grievance of a child labourer.
The employers on their part, after an initial period of resistance, have responded quite well. There have been innumerable cases of bonded labourer’s released, child workers sponsored for schools and so on. In several villages they have changed their cropping pattern (for instance from floriculture to paddy) to avoid having to employ children. The change of heart is as much due to compulsions of having to respond to community pressure as it is to a genuine desire to free child labour.
Broadly stated therefore, while a situation of confrontation does exist, properly planned, the situation need not necessarily lead to precipitation of this confrontation.