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Menace of Child Labour
5/19/2019 11:41:54 PM
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma
Every year 30th of April is celebrated as the National Anti-Child Labour Day in India to focus on the extent of child labour and efforts needed to eliminate it. This day is celebrated to create awareness and educate the citizens about the hardships of the child labourers. This day provides us an opportunity to gain support from government, schools, civil society, youths and women groups as well as print and electronic media to eradicate the menace of child labour across the nation. Child labour is the work that deprives children of their childhood and interferes with their education by depriving them to attend schools which ultimately effects their personal development. Although Constitution of India guarantees free and compulsory education to the children between the age of 6 to 14 years and prohibits employment to children younger than 14 to 18 in hazardous occupations, still the child labour can be observed in various sectors across the nation. Children are the future of any nation and their proper development is the utmost priority. Child labour is a scar on the world's conscience in the 21st century. It is a social evil and a bane in the development of any society. Child labour exists in every society. It is ubiquitous although it varies in its degree and form. It is really a serious issue and we should pay attention on it. Every year we observe Anti-Child Labour in India to pay attention on the need to eliminate this menace. Entire world is responsible for this crime against the children. India is not an exception. Child labour in India is increasing every year. The International Labour Organisation Convention No.138 defines hazardous child labour as work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm health, safety or moral of children. Working children are exploited and they are toiled for long hours with the minimum payment. These children live the life of deprivation and suffering. The exploitation affects their physical, psychological and moral growth. Every day we come across about the child abuse on the newspapers. Now the children below the age of 14 have become an important part of various industries at the cost of their health and innocence.
It is said that children are God's greatest creation. They are born for love and affection. They are the future of any nation. They should not be subjugated to unbearable pain. Their dreams are stolen by some persons of society. Many children of India undergo the different forms of child labour which includes child slavery, child prostitution, child trafficking, child soldiers etc. Child labour is a heinous crime, an offence and it is an old phenomenon which has increased with the increase in the industrializations and capitalism. Economically child is considered as the least active member of an economy but socially children are the foundation of a nation. Psychologically childhood represents most tender phase where the child needs love, freedom and protection. In present era of technological advancement, children are being callously exploited almost in every country of the world. Child labour has been found highest in Sub-Saharan Africa where 41 per cent of those aged between five to fifteen work. In Asia 21 per cent are working and 17 per cent in Latin America. Asia contributes 60 per cent of child workforce due to its high population growth. Asia is led by India which has about 44 million child workers. In Pakistan about 17.7 per cent of child work force has been observed while in Bangladesh these figures are 30.1.These figures are not absolute though many agencies operate their rackets of child labour. Mostly the culprits remain unpunished. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 in hazardous conditions. Child Labour Act, 1986 regulates working hours and wages of children less than fourteen years working in non-hazardous employment. Immoral Traffic Act, 1986 amendment provides for seven years imprisonment for recruitment, transportation or receipt of a child below eighteen years of old for exploitation. Article 45 relating to free and compulsory education for children bear testimony to this realisation. The other provisions related to prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced child labour (Article 23) and certain principle to be followed by the state stipulates that children be secured against exploitation. There are various restrictions on child labour in our country but the child labour is so deeply embedded in our society that it shows little signs of decreasing. In our country around 90 per cent of the working children in the rural areas are employed in agriculture and allied activities, forty per cent of urban children work in manufacturing sector and firework factories. In our country children are forced by the parents or even kidnapped by the gangsters for the work. The distribution of child labour in various states appears to indicate certain correlation. States having a larger population living below poverty line has a high incidence of child labour is accompanied by high rates of school dropouts. Survival is the only priority for the families below the poverty line.
Many children are sexually abused throughout their life. The offenders are known to them but even then there is no one with them for their safety. They are traumatized throughout their life. We often read such types of instances in different daily publications. The children from tourist places are also sexually abused. In many places we often read about the rackets trading of children. These types of rackets promote the child prostitution. We don't have the estimation of children who are sexually abused because their fathers are languishing in prison and their mothers are trapped in red light areas. What type of future can be expected of such children whose life suddenly halts before they begin it? The nexus between the child labour and poverty is complex. Children are more helpless than adults. Some people take advantage of them in order to cater their vested interests. The wealth concentrates in the hands of few people due to unequal distribution of wealth. These wealthy people make the underprivileged work in servitude. Population explosion and limited number of social welfare schemes aggravate this problem. The education and caste systems of our country are also responsible for this problem. To dominate someone who is weaker than us indicates our spiritual degradation despite being civilized. The bonded labour in the carpet industry is nauseating. It is estimated that lakhs of children are working in the various industries that eventually beautify the houses of rich. These children sometimes suffer with the diseases like tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. In some industries children work in rooms with poor ventilation, dangling electric wires and intense heat. There is a great demand for trafficked children as cheap labour or for sexual exploitation. It is estimated that around 1.2 million are trafficked every year. Out of nine million prostitutes in India, thirty per cent are children. They are smuggled from different corners of the country. There is a correlation between HIV/AIDS and child labour. The condition of the girl child is more precarious than the boy. The fact is that this happy world has a darker side. Shouldn't we be ashamed? The answer is big YES. The more we ignore this problem, the more it will worsen.
The most important thing is to increase the awareness and keep discussing ways and means to eliminate this problem. If child labour is to be eradicated, the Governments and other agencies need to start their work. In India there are various NGOs who have exposed this issue in front of national and international agencies. Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have eliminated this problem. Indonesia and Thailand have made progress to eradicate this problem. India needs to show the similar kind of results. Government is taking various pro-active measures to tackle this problem. Considering the magnitude and extent of the problem and that it is socio-economic problem, it requires concerted efforts from all sections of the society to make a dent in the problem. The children should be involved in the solution of the problem. The government needs to implement the programmes and policies for the elimination of child labour. As poverty is the root cause of child labour, .the action plan must be prepared to cover these children and their families under various poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes. It is said that whatever is done to children, they will do to society. It is our responsibility to continue our efforts to eradicate the menace of child across the nation. Systematic, sympathetic and sincere efforts are needed to eliminate this problem. Proper enforcement of laws, generation of public opinion and employment oriented quality education are required to eradicate the problem.
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