By Subhi Shukla
Due to COVID-19, all the efforts made by the Indian government to provide children with better education and life seems all ruined. The poor financial condition of parents, inaccessible online education have increased the number of school dropouts worldwide. At that tender age, kids are expected to learn, play, study, and dream about what they want to be in the future but child labor snatches their dreams and makes them work hard physically and mentally to earn a little amount of money.
What is Child Labor?
Child labor can be best described as work that snatches away childhood, dreams, and capability. It also results in harmful physical and mental growth. Involvement of children below 18 in some economic activities, whether it be paid or unpaid, such involvement could be mental or physical.
Reasons for Child Labor
It refers to such a situation where a human is unable to meet the minimum standard of living, necessities due to the absence of enough financial resources. When a family goes through this phase they expect their kids to work and earn some money to support the family and feed them. Due to scarcity parents are left with no other option than to send their children for work even at a very low wage rate.
According to WORLDOMETER elaboration, India’s population is approx 138 crore, out of which 42.75 million people in India are unemployed. India ranks at 86th position with an unemployment rate of 8.5% out of 214 countries. The population in the country is much more than the job opportunities available, which leads to a large section of the society remaining unemployed. When the adults are unemployed, this leads them to poverty, debt trap, and they also cannot educate their children which ultimately results in child labor.
When a family gets stuck in the vicious cycle of debt trap it contributes to child labor. As children start working at a very tender age to make their family financially sound and act as a helping hand to bring them out of the debt trap.
India has one of the cheapest labors available therefore it is one of the biggest markets for outsourcing. Other countries approach India to get their work done at a very minimum rate. It is similar to that of the labor class, the labor salary in India is minimal and to increase the family income, parents are forced to let their children work and support them.
Role of NGOs in Prohibiting Child Labor
- NGOs are motivating commercial enterprises in India to not hire kids for the fulfillment of their employee requirements.
- They are working hard to bring a full stop to this social evil.
- They have been also encouraging locals to make sure that they report cases of child labor at businesses to the police.
- Children who belong to communities like scheduled tribes, scheduled caste, Muslims, and OBC are more prone to child labor even after being provided with the reservation facility.
- They have been spreading awareness about what does it mean child labor? and also they have been directly communicating with the vulnerable communities telling them about how important it is to keep children out of any form of labor.
Position In World
- Africa has the largest number of child labor with almost 72 million children, followed by Asia with approx 62 million children involved in some sort of labor work.
- The number of children stuck in child labor has risen to 160 million worldwide. 8.5 million children are dragged into child labor during the last four years. And there is an additional risk of 9 million children getting involved as an impact of Covid 19.
- Every step to prevent child labor has stalled for the very first time in the past 20 years which will reverse the earlier downward trend that saw child labor fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.
Position in India
Earlier Child labor was very common in rural India where 80% of the children are trapped in child labor, but slowly with time, this graph shifted from rural to urban India. Because of the presence of big cities with more number of the job opportunity. According to a report by UNICEF, there is a 54% increase in child labor for children aged between 5 to14. As per a campaign against child labor India has approx 12666377 child laborers. Uttar Pradesh has 1927997 child laborers. Delhi has over 1 million child laborers. Other leading states are Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
Courts in India have proved themselves to be the torchbearer towards this issue of child labor.
In the above-mentioned case courts held that article 21 includes protection of health and also empowers workers, women, and children against the abuse. According to the court, the occasion and services for children to grow and build in a healthy way and order of freedom and decorum and educational benefits.
It was held that it is the responsibility of states to focus on a child’s development and growth and provide better opportunities to enhance his personality. Judicial institutions have always tried to fix issues which concern society at large. And has always tried to grow and expand the law to cover all the concerns of society.
In this case, the court held that, under child labor (prohibition and regulation act,1860), if any child below the age of 14 is appointed a penal order will be passed against the employer but the employee will be free, no penal action would be charged against him.
Laws Against Child Labour
Factories Act of 1948
This act guides and prohibits factory owners regarding employment creation. Under this act employment of children under the age of 14 is forbidden by law. It also gave a guideline on the employment criteria of a pre-adult that is 15 to 18 years of age
The Mines Act of 1952
Working in mines is considered one of the toughest occupations. Kids with no experience of work in this field might lead to an adverse effect. After witnessing various incidents of children losing their life while working in mines, our lawmakers came up with this act, and children working in this field was completely banned. This act talks about employment criteria in mines, it forbids children under the age of 18 to work at such a place.
The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986
To prevent children from working at some perilous occupation, our lawmakers came up with a list for the same. Under which all the hazardous occupations were listed down and children under 14 years were strictly prohibited to work at such places. The 2016 amendment changed the title of the act from THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT OF 1986 to CHILD AND ADOLESCENT (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT OF 1986. The amendment added the following features in the act:-
- No child shall be permitted to work in any occupation or process
- Nothing in sub-section(1) of the act shall apply where the child:-
(a) Helps his family or family enterprise, which is other than any hazardous occupations or processes outlined in the schedule, after his school hours or during vacations.
(b) Work as an artist in the audio-visual entertainment industry, including the advertisement, films, television serials, or any such other entertainment or sports activities except for the circus, subject to such conditions and safety measures, as may be prescribed. Provided that no such work under this clause shall affect the school education of the child.
- No adolescent shall be employed or permitted to work in any of the hazardous occupations or processes outlined in the schedule: provided that the central government may, by notification, specify the nature of the nonhazardous work to which an adolescent may be permitted to work under this act.
The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act of 2000
It was made punishable for employers to employ a child in some hazardous work. This act provides punishment to those who act in contravention to the previous acts by employing children to work.
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009
For children aged from 6 to 14 years, education was made mandatory and free. It also mandated that in every private school 25% of seats should be allocated for children who come from physically disabled groups or disadvantaged groups.
Importance of Education Against Child Labor
- Education plays a very significant role in eliminating child labor. Every year world day against child labor is celebrated on 12th June by Education International. According to Education International, early education is very important to get children out of the labor market.
- It doesn’t only help children to learn necessary skills, but also allows them to lead a decent life forward.
- Education and training are mandatory drivers of social and economic growth and democracy.
- The removal of all costs linked with education will result in a large section of society being educated.
- An approach with the mindset to educate children and drag them out of poverty will reduce the number of child labor cases we face now.
- Education is a fundamental right, over which no one has the authority to deny.
- It helps in changing people’s opinions towards life and makes them better human beings.
Effects of Child Labor
Health issues:- Industries like Bengal making, employ a lot number of children and working in such industries leads to several severe diseases such as loss of eyesight at a very young age, depression, anxiety and also pushes them towards destructive habits like smoking alcoholism and drug abuse.
Increases chances of the accident:- Children due to their lack of experience don’t easily understand the consequences of their acts, which happens to increase the risk of losing their life, If in the case involved with some hazardous work. There are a lot number of cases where children made some mistake at work and had to repay with their life. Working under someone increases the chances of a kid being sexually harassed by the employer or adult co-workers.
Eradicating child labor is still a distant dream for India. But education can be proved as a weapon to deal with it. Our lawmakers are trying to tackle the problem but it’s high time that we as a citizen of India help the government to solve the problem. Problems like poverty, Illiteracy leads to child labor, with a collective effort by all of us, will for sure help children to drag them out of the labor world and lead a better life ahead.