Child Labour- A big burden on tiny heads


There are many definitions by different organisations that explain child labour. Child labour in simple words can be defined as, “A forceful way to make a child work against his/her will and the dominance of responsibilities which he/she are not yet bound to have.”
Child labour has existed throughout the history. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many children aged 5-14 from poverty-stricken families were enslaved to support their families in whatever ways they could. Globally the incidence of child labour decreased from 25% to 10% between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank. Nevertheless, the total number of child labourers remains high, with UNICEF and ILO acknowledging an estimated 168 million children aged 5–17 worldwide were involved in child labour in 2013.
But this social evil has been consistently working towards the downfall of any economy it has it’s eyes on. In the world's poorest countries, around 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labour, the highest number of whom (29 percent) live in sub-saharan Africa. In 2017, four African nations (Mali, Benin, Chad and Guinea-Bissau) witnessed over 50 percent of children aged 5–14 working. The children are mainly employed by their parents to help them face the hardships of famine. Poverty and lack of schools are considered the primary cause of child labour.
The highest percentage of child labour is found in agriculture. Some 60 percent of the child labour was involved in agricultural activities such as farming, dairy, fisheries and forestry. Another 25% of child labourers were in service activities such as retail, hawking goods, restaurants, load and transfer of goods, storage, picking and recycling trash, polishing shoes, domestic help, and other services. The remaining 15% laboured in assembly and manufacturing in informal economy, home-based enterprises, factories, mines, packaging salt, operating machinery, and such operations.
There are many big reasons which have been supporting child labour from centuries and are catastrophic to the future generations overall development. Child labour not only takes away the innocence of these little ones but also ruins their other perspectives of development. The rights of safe environment and compulsory education which are the most important for a decent development of a child are taken away from them.
Children are employed because they are cheap and pliable to the demands of the employer and not aware of their rights. The risks that these children face can have an irreversible physical, psychological and moral impact on their development, health and wellbeing.

THE POLICY FRAMEWORK SURROUNDING CHILD LABOUR

  1. The key international laws dealing with child labour include the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment of 1973 (ILO Convention138) and on the Worst Forms of Child Labour of 1999 (ILO Convention182).
  2. India has not ratified either of the two ILO conventions and also made a reservation to article 32 of the CRC at the time of ratification stating that it would apply the article in a progressive manner, according to its national legislation and international commitments, especially in relation to the minimum age.
India has not ratified either of the two ILO conventions and also made a reservation to article 32 of the CRC at the time of ratification stating that it would apply the article in a progressive manner, according to its national legislation and international commitments, especially in relation to the minimum age.

Related national legislations

  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act (1986), “to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments” (preamble of the CLPR Act). It excludes a section of toiling children in the unorganized sectors including agriculture, as well as household work.
  • National Policy on Child Labour (1987), with a focus more on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes, rather than on prevention.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 (the JJ Act) and amendment of the JJ Act in 2006: includes the working child in the category of children in need of care and protection, without any limitation of age or type of occupation. Section 23 (cruelty to Juvenile) and Section 26 (exploitation of juvenile employee) specifically deal with child labour under children in need of care and protection.
  • The Right to Education Act 2009 has made it mandatory for the state to ensure that all children aged six to 14 years are in school and receive free education. Along with Article 21A of the Constitution of India recognizing education as a fundamental right, this constitutes a timely opportunity to use education to combat child labour in India.

Indian legislation protects children from exploitation:

  • The Child Labour Prohibition Act 1986 bans the employment of children below the age of 14 in many professions, such as domestic labour, and in the hospitality trade for example in roadside dhabas (restaurants), restaurants, hotels, motels and spas. It does not ban child labour in agriculture.
  • The Right to Education Act 2009 ensures all children 6-14 years have the right to free and compulsory education.
  • The Indian Constitution ensures the right of all children 6-14 years to free and compulsory education; prohibits forced labour; prohibits the employment of children below 14 years in hazardous occupations; and promotes policies protecting children from exploitation.
  • Whoever employs a child or permits a child to work is punishable with imprisonment from three months to one year or with fine no less than INR 10,000–20,000 rupees or with both
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 defines child as being below 18 years of age. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by India in 1992, all children have the right to be protected from work that is dangerous, or that might harm children’s health or education.
There are big challenges in ending child labour which will require a lot of time since this social evil is very strong from its root. NGO’S and many other organisations such as Child Rights and You (CRY), International Labour Organization (ILO) and Save the Children have been working towards the eradication of child labour consistently since their formation.


Saher Hiba Khan is currently pursuing B.a. (hons.) English (2nd year) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She loves to write on social issues which are the real evils of our society. She also loves to write poetry whenever the monster living in her head wants to pen down its feelings. "I just want people to wake up from their sleeps and face the reality of our Hypocritical Society."

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The Radical - Information That Matters: Child Labour- A big burden on tiny heads
Child Labour- A big burden on tiny heads
There are many definitions by different organisations that explain child labour. Child labour in simple words can be defined as, “A forceful way to make a child work against his/her will and the dominance of responsibilities which he/she are not yet bound to have.” Child labour has existed throughout the history. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many children aged 5-14 from poverty-stricken families were enslaved to support their families in whatever ways they could. Globally the incidence of child labour decreased from 25% to 10% between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank. Nevertheless, the total number of child labourers remains high, with UNICEF and ILO acknowledging an estimated 168 million children aged 5–17 worldwide were involved in child labour in 2013.
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