Imagine an innocent child who is living without a good understanding of himself and the world around him, who is pushed to earn the bread butter and be deprived of his rights. Undoubtedly, the feeling will be awful and disgraceful. This stigma is none other than Child Labour. As per the census of India 2001, Child Labour is said to be the participation of a child, who is aged less than 17 years in economically productive activity, whether physically or mentally with or without the pay or compensation, wages or profit.
According to UNICEF, children who fall in the age group of 5 to 11 who is involved in atleast 1 OR 28 HOURS of economic activity are said to be under the arrest of child labour.
The national census of 2011 reveals that approx number of child labour are aged from 4 to 14 years which accounts to more than 4.35 million in number, when the total population of children is 259.64 million. According to the reports of ILO (International Labour Organization) in 2015 and CRY (Child Rights and You) analysis on census 2011, is given in five bulleted points below:
1. One out of eleven child is a victim of child labor even today. There are 38.7 million boys and 8.8 million girls who are involved in hazardous work.
2. Child labour is declining at sluggish rate of only 2.2% every year from 2001 to 2011.
3. The states in which child labour is concentrated are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra which accounts to more than half of the total 5.5 million working children in India.
4. More than 80% of child labour exists rural areas where and three out of every four of these children work either cultivators, in agricultural fields or in household industrial units.
5. Out of total child labour in India, 20.7% children are adolescents who are working in hazardous industry. Whereas, children from age group from 15 to 17 years of age account to form nearly 63% of total children involved in hazardous works.
This practice engages children in economic activity on a part time or a full time basis. The trigger factors of child labour are generally said to be poverty, lack of schools, illiteracy etc. The work usually varies from part time help to unpaid work on the farm, family enterprises or in an economic activity. Some of the other probable reason of the child labour in India is work for domestic roles and house help in majority of the cases. The sectors apart from agriculture in which they are involved are saree weaving, domestic helpers, coal mining, diamond industry, fireworks manufacturing, silk manufacturing, carpet weaving. More than 90% of the child labour belong to the untouchable caste, poverty stricken, natural calamity affected, tribal minorities, trafficked children and lower caste community.
Child labour has catastrophic impacts on a child’s welfare and society at large. It is a huge socio- economic problem which is inextricably linked to illiteracy and poverty. It is undoubtedly harmful for their mental, physical development on a deep level. It deprives children of their potential and their dignity. Child labour interferes with the ability to have a proper study routine, school going routine, recreational activities that are threats to overall growth of children in short and long run. Jeopardizing the intellect of children, child labour pushing them to a space that is beyond repair in the later stages of life. Child labour also is detrimental and brings along might bring health hazard. Threatening the basic fundamental right of a child, child labour deprives them of their family, friends, health, school, play and life.
According to the Indian Law there are 64 industries which comes under hazardous type and it is said to employ mostly children labours, which is not less than a criminal offence. Whether it be Factories Act of 1948, The Mines Act of 1952, The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and regulations) Act of 1986, The Juvenile Justice (care and protection) of children Act 2015 or the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, every act underlays how illegal the practice of child labour is. According to the findings of the International Labour Organisation, 70% of the share includes child labour which is deployed in primary sector namely agriculture and it’s allied activities and other sectors respectively.
Solely by the virtue of the genders, girls are said to suffer way more than higher the boys. Parents of such girl child labour carry prejudice of them being a burden and hence they are bullied, are deprived of education or in most of the cases dropouts.
Since the nature of child labour comes out of the vicious circle of poverty. Unaffordability, lack of quality schools, unavailability of teachers at schools are other driving factors that forces children to resort to child labour.
It is observed that migrant children are increasingly bear in hazardous forms of labour as their families escape from environmental stress near their residing districts. The changing climatic conditions forces their family the shift places to run a livelihood. As a result a child who is forced into labour will be unable to learn skills, have a basic outlook of handling normal life situation and in the future would also put at risk their future life. One of the most popular child labour form found un India is the Bonded Child Labour, in which a system of forced or partly forced form of labour where the child’s parent enters into an agreement with the creditor or the royalty.
Child labour is an alarming threat to the economic welfare of the country ruining the physical, intellectual, emotional & psychological condition of a child. Every year the 12th of June is observed across the globe as the world day against Child labour. On this day many social activists make sure to surge rallies and spread more a word on abolishing Child labour. There are many Indian activists, non-governmental organization programs that are working towards the curbing and abolishing Child labour practices. And many lawyers are working for the protection and benefit of children rights and welfare activities in order to create a child friendly society. The country should have zero tolerance on the face of mankind when it comes to child labour and their exploitation. Several measure that are been taken by non profit organization and dedicated government bodies such as rescuing child labour victims restitution their rights. Central as well as the State Governments have been taking appropriate measures, conducting regular inspections & raids so as to detect cases of violations and exploitation of children. Identifying and prosecuting such employers, provision if immediate care and help, application of statutory rehabilitation and legal aid to protect such children.
There are innumerable children who are excluded from human identity and dignity. There are many children whose life had wiped out in the scourge of slavery and ignorance from the face of mankind. It is the need of the hour to free every child labour make free from exclusion and exploitation. Every children deserve quality education, multiplying the ray of the sun and every citizen should take a step on their behalf.
Child labour is a denial to human dignity, rejection of childhood, freedom of future and dreams.
The country yearns for a renaissance, a kind of a movement where every child who is under the arrest of child labour can seek liberation, rehabilitation and pursue education. It is only possible with active participation of communities, coalitions, intervention of non profit organization, running campaigns, mobilizing masses to work on areas of child development. Curbing Child labour requires equal, united and concerted efforts from all stratas of the society.