The coronavirus pandemic is forcing India’s children out of school and into farms and factories to work, worsening a child labor problem that was already one of the most dire in the world.
Maheshwari Munkalapally, 16, and her 15-year-old sister stopped attending lessons when virtually the entire economy was brought to a halt during the world’s biggest lockdown. Munkalapally’s mother and older sister lost their jobs as housemaids in Hyderabad, the capital of the southern Telangana state. The younger girls, who had been living with their grandmother in a nearby village, were forced to become farmhands along with their mother, in order to survive.
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