Child Labour- an undesirable workforce

This year so far, over 751 child labourers have been rescued from Jaipur. The gems, polishing, hotels and restaurants industry in Jaipur attract hundreds of such children every month. Most of them are sold by their parents to the middlemen who further send them to jaipur. Recently fifty four children were rescued from Jaipur. These children were in the age group of 7 to 17 years. All of them were kept in inhuman condition by the employers with two meals a day along with Rs 10 to Rs 50 per. They were made to work for 14-16 hours a day with no leaves at all. According to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), nearly 40,000 children are abducted every year, of which 11,000 remain untraced. Only 10% of human trafficking in India is international, while almost 90% is interstate. Many of the families, unable to afford the basic necessities of life, are forced to sell their children particularly girls. These children are often trafficked for domestic work, begging and sexual exploitation.

31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover once said children are our most valuable natural resource but the major companies across the world have been accused of using children to minimize the cost of production and maximize their profit margins. These giants include Nike, Adidas, Forever 21, Aeropostale, Hersheys, Microsoft, Apple, Phillip Morris, Victoria Secret, Puma, Samsung and counting. Few months back US-based China Labor Watch reported that the Chinese firm Dongguan Shinyang Electronics was employing workers under the age of 16. It supplies mobile phone covers and parts to South Korean smartphone maker Samsung Electronics.

According to report of the ILO, underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers. Every day millions of children worldwide are forced to work in inhumane conditions. It is estimated that around 168 million children are being forced into child labour.

Children account for 42% of our country’s population and 2% out of which are working. In India, according to the 2011 census, 43.53 lakh children, in the age group of 5 to 14 years, are engaged in various economic activities. 32.7 lakh children are working in rural areas where as 10.8 lakh children are labourers in urban areas. India is home to the largest number of working children in the world under 14 years of age. United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70% of child labour is deployed in agriculture and related activities like farming, livestock rearing and fisheries. Children are also employed in unorganized sector like fireworks industry, silk industry, carpet weaving, coal mining, diamond industry and domestic services. Because of the structure of the unorganized sector, nearly 85% of this child labour remain hard-to-reach, invisible and excluded. These sectors deploy low cost, easy to hire, easy to dismiss labor in form of child labour. According to UNICEF, 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations.

For some of the families, children’s income constitutes 25% to 40% of the family income. In comparison to boys, girls are two times more likely to be out of school and working in a domestic services. Parents with limited resources have to choose between the boy and the girl for schooling. Therefore, many girls are kept away from school or drop out, and are used as child labour. Children work for their families and help them economically. They do not realize the value of education and parents do not unwelcome the extra money. Child labour is a violation of children’s rights. Due to long hours in hazardous conditions, they are exposed to many ailments and diseases. Other than the health abuse, they are also reported to face the verbal and sexual abuse.

There is a clear contradiction in the way, children are defined. One of the main complicated legal issues in India is of having multiple definitions of age of children across various labour laws and social legislations. While the social legislations define a child to be 18 years, most labour legislations define it as 14. India first introduced The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. According to the Government of India, in 2013, 8,776 violations under this act were detected.

Government of India formulated a National Policy on Child Labour in 1987. Main focus of this policy was on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations. In 1988 the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) was initiated to eliminate child labour. This year, Government of India has approved this scheme for 270 districts in 20 states of the country. The government is implementing this scheme in the area of high concentration of child labour. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines a child as any person who has not completed 18 years of age. It is the latest law, according to many legal experts, applicable for child rights and protection, and should be considered the legal definition for a child in all matters. Now the central government is considering reviewing, amending and strengthening the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2012.

In 2006, the ILO’s Second Global Report on Child Labour reported significant progress in the fight against child labour, but ILO’s Third Global Report released in 2010, showed a reduction of just 3 percent of the global estimates in the four-year period. At the Hague Global Child Labour Conference 2010, a goal to eliminate the child labour  by 2016, was set by 80 countries.  In 2012, the number of children involved in the worst forms of child labour was 85 million. The decline in child labour is not much encouraging. Child labour is a complex issue that needs to be tackled through efforts individually as well as collectively.

It is sad to see that at the age of holding pens, books and toys, they hold shoe polish, garbage bags and empty bottles. At the age of making sand castles and tree houses, they are forced to make products that we use in our daily lives. Nelson Mandela once said,” There can be no keener revelation of the society’s soul than the way in which it treats the children.”


[author image=”” ]I am Ritvik Khare[/author]



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