Child labour in India has long been the focus of research, policy concern and intervention. This article presents an analysis of children’s involvement in agricultural work, particularly cottonseed production, drawing on evidence gathered for Young Lives in 2007 and 2008. In parts of Andhra Pradesh, children work in cotton fields for two or three months of the year, with marked gender and age differentiation. In the mid-1990s, there was reportedly a cultural as well as an economic basis for children’s work in cottonseed pollination, when it was believed that pre-pubescent girls were preferred, as they were considered ‘pure’. However, the reasons for preferring children are now largely financial and practical. The article focuses on accounts from two girls who highlighted the importance of this form of work in their everyday lives and its consequences for their schooling.
Children and Society (2010) 24 (4) 304-314 [10.1111/j.1099-0860.2010.00314.x]