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Last Updated: Thursday June 02 2005 12:45 GMT

Police rescue 440 child workers

Child labourers from Mumbai
Police in India have helped about 440 children escape from illegal sweatshops in raids across the city of Mumbai.

A force of 150 officers rounded up 42 people and charged them with using underage workers.

Even though most chose to do the work to earn money for their families, the children, aged between 14 and 16, didn't know it was illegal.

After working long hours to earn enough money for food, the children will be returned home or looked after.

Child labour
Children working in a field in Bangladesh
171m children in labour around the world
127.3m in Asian and Pacific regions
5.7m forced into slavery
1.2m trafficked around world
119m work in agriculture
Big problem

Mohammed Sadre Alam, one of the workers, said: "We get tired sitting and working there for long hours. They make us work a lot."

The Indian children were mostly involved in small engineering or leather businesses, in the Madanpura region of the city.

Child labour is a big problem around the world, with more than 171 million children in work worldwide.

Children's charity Unicef defines child labour as all young people involved in employment that could harm them, even if they are above school age.

Children who are forced to work to support their families often don't have time to go to school, or simply enjoy their childhood.

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