World Day against Child Labour

Posted by The Open Page | 12th June 2017

The Indian Consensus, 2001, defines child labour as participation of children in an economically productive activity, with or without compensation, wages and profit. Such work can be mental or physical, part time or full time. It includes unpaid work on a family enterprise, farm etc. 

In 2002, International Labour Organisation launched World day Against Child labour to generate attention on the issue of child labour and the efforts made globally to eliminate it. Each year on 12th June, the day marks the coming together of civil society, workers organisations, governments and millions of people to highlight the suffering of child labourers and what should be done to help them. 

Last year, in 2016, the theme of the event was "Supply Chains". As of now, 168 million children are still working as labourers, all supply chains from agriculture to manufacturing, construction to services, depend on this illegal mechanism. International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and International Labour Organisation have joined hands to create Child Labour Guidance Tool- a source for corporations to gain information and ability to conduct business in accordance to the international labour standards on child labour.

India, despite having strict laws and policies to prevent child labour, is still unable to resolve the issue.  The following rights and acts help decrease the plight of these children but only when implemented effectively -

1. The right to free and compulsory education -

The law mandates free and fair education for all children upto the age of 14. In order to achieve this we not only have millions of government schools but 25% of seats in private schools are reserved for children from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. 

2. The Indian government launched a National Policy on Child Labour in 1987-

This policy seeks to rehabilitate children working in hazardous occupations. 

3. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015-

This law criminalised, with a prison term, for anybody to keep a child in bondage for the purpose of employment. 

Despite these heavy regulations, India has the largest number of child labourers in the world. The primary cause for this is prevalent and widespread poverty. Other factors include over-population, lack of access to schools or quality education, parental illiteracy and lack of awareness regarding laws. Combined with this, is the blatant disregard for laws shown by powerful corporations for the sake of their own profit. It's also strongly suggested that girls are twice more likely than boys to drop out of school. 

However, as an individual and a citizen of this country, there are some steps we can take.

1. Voice injustice -

Whether it is your neighbour employing an underage girl to clean the house, or the "Chottu" (underage boy) at your local tea shop, it's time to not look away and close your eyes but to call them out on their actions and to inform the authorities to prevent this from happening in the future. By voicing injustice you become the voice for those who have been too oppressed to stand up for themselves. 

2. Conscious consumption -

Read up on the industries and help create awareness. Refuse to buy products from corporations that exploit children. Multiple NGOs like "Rank a Brand", "Made-by" and "Fair-Wear" keep checks on how fair and transparent companies are and whether they stick to working conditions. 

3. Implementation of Regulations -

By campaigning for an effective implementation of all anti child labour laws, policies and regulations you help make the world safer for millions. 

When it comes to abolishing child labour, India has a long way to go but with the help of educated, informed and law-abiding citizens it will no longer be an up-hill battle. 

Writer: Sheen Kaul
Delhi University Student

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