ChildLabour An estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labour - one in six children in the world. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations. In Sub-Saharan Africa around one in three children are engaged in child labour, representing 69 million children. In South Asia, another 44 million are engaged in child labour. The latest national estimates for this indicator are reported in Table 9 (Child Protection) of UNICEF's annual publication The State of the World's Children. Children living in the poorest households and in rural areas are most likely to be engaged in child labour. Those burdened with household chores are overwhelmingly girls. Millions of girls who work as domestic servants are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Labour often interferes with children’s education. Ensuring that all children go to school and that their education is of good quality are keys topreventing child labour. Earning on the streets Wasim, a child labourer working at a tea stall; India, 9 July 2010
What is Child Labour? Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. Child labour was utilized to varying extents through most of history, but entered public dispute with the advent of universal schooling, with changes in working conditions during the industrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts of workers' and children's rights.
Child labour in India Child labor in India is a human right issue for the whole world. It is a serious and extensive problem, with many children under the age of fourteen working in carpet making factories, glass blowing units and making fireworks with bare little hands. According to the statistics given by Indian government there are 20 million child laborers in the country, while other agencies claim that it is 50 million. The situation of child laborers in India is desperate. Children work for eight hours at a stretch with only a small break for meals. The meals are also frugal and the children are ill nourished. Most of the migrant children who cannot go home, sleep at their work place, which is very bad for their health and development. Seventy five percent of Indian population still resides in rural areas and are very poor. Children in rural families who are ailing with poverty perceive their children as an income generating resource to supplement the family income. Parents sacrifice their children’s education to the growing needs of their younger siblings in such families and view them as wage earners for the entire clan. In Northern India the exploitation of little children for labor is an accepted practice and perceived by the local population as a necessity to alleviate poverty. Carpet weaving industries pay very low wages to child laborers and make them work for long hours in unhygienic conditions. Children working in such units are mainly migrant workers from Northern India, who are shunted here by their families to earn some money and send it to them. Their families dependence on their income, forces them to endure the onerous work conditions in the carpet factories. The Indian government has tried to take some steps to alleviate the problem of child labor in recent years by invoking a law that makes the employment of children below 14 illegal, except in family owned enterprises. However this law is rarely adhered to due to practical difficulties. Factories usually find loopholes and circumvent the law by declaring that the child laborer is a distant family member. Also in villages there is no law implementing mechanism, and any punitive actions for commercial enterprises violating these laws is almost non existent. Child labor is a conspicuous problem in India. Its prevalence is evident in the child work participation rate, which is more than that of other developing countries. Poverty is the reason for child labor in India. The meager income of child laborers is also absorbed by their families. The paucity of organized banking in the rural areas creates a void in taking facilities, forcing poor families to push their children in harsh labor, the harshest being bonded labor.
Causes of Child Labour Some common causes of child labor are poverty, parental illiteracy, social apathy, ignorance, lack of education and exposure, exploitation of cheap and unorganized labor. The family practice to inculcate traditional skills in children also pulls little ones inexorably in the trap of child labor, as they never get the opportunity to learn anything else. Absence of compulsory education at the primary level, parental ignorance regarding the bad effects of child labor, the ineffictivity of child labor laws in terms of implementation, non availability and non accessibility of schools, boring and unpractical school curriculum and cheap child labor are some other factors which encourages the phenomenon of child labor. It is also very difficult for immature minds and undeveloped bodies to understand and organize them selves against exploitation in the absence of adult guidance. Adult unemployment and urbanization also causes child labor. Adults often find it difficult to find jobs because factory owners find it more beneficial to employ children at cheap rates. This exploitation is particularly visible in garment factories of urban areas. Adult exploitation of children is also seen in many places. Elders relax at home and live on the labor of poor helpless children. The industrial revolution has also had a negative effect by giving rise to circumstances which encourages child labor. Sometimes multinationals prefer to employ child workers in the developing countries. This is so because they can be recruited for less pay, more work can be extracted from them and there is no union problem with them. This attitude also makes it difficult for adults to find jobs in factories, forcing them to drive their little ones to work to keep the fire burning their homes. Poverty and over population have been identified as the two main causes of child labor. Parents are forced to send little children into hazardous jobs for reasons of survival, even when they know it is wrong. Monetary constraints and the need for food, shelter and clothing drives their children in the trap of premature labor. Over population in some regions creates paucity of resources. When there are limited means and more mouths to feed children are driven to commercial activities and not provided for their development needs. This is the case in most Asian and African countries. Illiterate and ignorant parents do not understand the need for wholesome proper physical, cognitive and emotional development of their child. They are themselves uneducated and unexposed, so they don’t realize the importance of education for their children.
Child Labour Policy in India There are specific clauses in the draft of Indian constitution dated 26th January 1950, about the child labor policy in India. These are conveyed through different articles in the Fundamental rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy. They lay down four specific policy rules regarding child labor. The main legislative measures at the national level are The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act -1986 and The Factories Act -1948. The first act was categorical in prohibiting the employment of children below fourteen years of age, and identified 57 processes and 13 occupations which were considered dangerous to the health and lives of children. The details of these occupations and processes are listed in the schedule to the said Act. The factories act again prohibits the employment of children less than fourteen years of age. However an adolescent aged between 15 and 18 can be recruited for factory employment only after securing a fitness certificate from a medical doctor who is authorized. The Act proceeds to prescribe only four and and hour’s work period per day for children between 14 and 18 years. Children are also not allowed to work in night shifts. 1) ( Article 14) No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. 2) Article 39-E) The state shall direct its policy towards securing that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not abused and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter vocations unsuited to there are and strength. 3) ( Article 39-f ) Children shall be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth shall be protected against moral and material abandonment. 4) (Article 45 ) The state shall endeavor to provide within a period of ten years from the commencement of the constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. Moreover, in the year 1996 the Supreme Court of India came out with a judgment in court that directed the State and Union government to make a list of all children embroiled in hazardous occupations and processes. They were then told to pull them out of work and asked to provide them with proper education of quality. The judiciary also laid down that Child Labor and Welfare Fund is set up. The contribution for this was to be received from employers who contravened the Child Labor Act.
Government policies and programmes In pursuance of India's development goals and strategies, a National Child Labour Policy was adopted in 1987 following the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. The national policy reiterates the directive principle of state policy in India's Constitution. It resolves to focus general development programmes to benefit children wherever possible and have project based action plans in areas of high concentration of child labour engaged in wage/quasi-wage employment. The Ministry of Labour and Employment has been implementing the national policy through the establishment of National Child Labour Projects (NCLPs) for the rehabilitation of child workers since 1988. Initially, these projects were industry specific and aimed at rehabilitating children working in traditional child labour endemic industries. A renewed commitment to fulfil the constitutional mandate resulted in enlarging the ambit of the NCLPs in 1994 to rehabilitate children working in hazardous occupations in child labour endemic districts. The strategy for the NCLPs includes the establishment of special schools to provide non-formal education and pre-vocational skills training; promoting additional income and employment generation opportunities; raising public awareness, and conducting surveys and evaluations of child labour. The experience gained by the Government in running the NCLPs over several years resulted in the continuation and expansion of the projects during the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997/02). Around 100 NCLPs were launched across the country to rehabilitate children working in hazardous industries such as glass and bangles, brassware, locks, carpets, slate tiles, matches, fireworks, and gems. The Central Government made a budgetary allocation of Rs 2.5 billion (about US$57 million) for these projects during the Ninth Five-Year Plan. The Government of India has expanded the coverage of the NCLPs to an additional 150 districts and increase the budgetary allocation to over Rs 6 billion (about US$131 million) during the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2003/07). Children in the age group of 5 - 9 years were enrolled directly under the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan or the Education for All Movement commenced under the 10th Five Year Plan. Further, those in the age group of 9 - 14 were admitted to special schools under the NCLP schemes. Besides this, components of healthcare and vocational training were also augmented. Most significantly in 2001 - 02 the Government launched the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan or the Education for All Programme which is an effort to universalize elementary education. This programme aims to achieve the goal of universal elementary education of satisfactory quality by 2010. Schemes for Children under the 10th Five Year plan include the Planning Commission's Integrated Programme for Street Children which aims to prevent the destitution of children and engineer their withdrawal from streets by providing facilities like shelter, nutrition, health care, education, recreation and protection against abuse and exploitation. Accordingly to the Government, during the 10th Five Year Plan, over 200,000 children benefitted from this. Further, the Scheme for Working Children in Need of Care and Protection by the Ministry of Women and Child Development provides non-formal education, vocational training to working children to facilitate their entry into mainstream education. This scheme has been implemented through NGOs. According to the Government, around 7,000 children benefited from this programme from 2005 - 2007. The strategy outlined for the 11th Five Year plan (2007 - 12) includes expanding the NCLP scheme to ensure universal enrolment of children in the 6 - 14 age group to cover those in the hard-to-reach segment. It also includes substantial improvements in the quality and standard of education and teacher training. Another notable Government initiative under the 11th plan is to amend all laws to recognize everyone under the age of 18 as children and to take appropriate measures to protect their rights accordingly. In September 2009, IPEC launched a Convergence Project against Child Labour which covers 5 States - Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The project will demonstrate effective convergence-based models for elimination and prevention of child labour including trafficking/migration of children in each state.
Child Protection and Rights According to International Law, a ‘child’ means every human being below the age of 18 years. Childhood is characterized as a period of special consideration in human rights terms, as a period of evolving abilities and vulnerabilities relative to those of adults. Today this is a universally accepted definition of a child which comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), an international legal instrument agreed and ratified by 192 States in the world to promote Child Protection and Child Rights. What is ‘Child ‘Protection?Child protection is crucial to ensuring that children under 18 years of age have the rights, confidence and environment in which they can make choices, express their views and communicate effectively with other children and adults. It is a broad term to describe philosophies, policies, standards, guidelines and procedures whose aim is to protect children from both intentional and unintentional harm and from vulnerability. Child protection incorporates both prevention and care as well as recovery and rehabilitation aspects. Children can only become change agents to improve their lives and that of their families and communities if they are safeguarded from abuse, discrimination and harm of any kind, be it physical, sexual, emotional or neglect. What are ‘Child’ Rights?A right is as an agreement or a “social contract” established between the persons who hold a right (often referred to as the “rights-holder”) and the persons or institutions which then have obligations and responsibilities in relation to the realisation of that right (often referred to as the “duty-bearer”.)Child Rights can be defined as the fundamental, vital freedoms and the inherent rights of all human beings below the age of 18. These rights apply to every child, irrespective of the child's, parent's / legal guardian's race, colour, sex, creed or other status.
CHILD LABOUR - Statistics, Newspaper clippings, maps and posters
Child Labour throughout the world
CHILDLINE 1098 CHILDLINE 1098 SERVICE The calls would come late in the night. "Didi, can you come? There's been a fight at the station." "Didi, can you help? The police have battered Raju." And a CHILDLINE volunteer would get up and rush out to where a street child was waiting. On one of those dashes across the sleeping city of Mumbai , an idea was born. What street children in Mumbai needed was a helpline, their own helpline. In 1996, Mumbai launched CHILDLINE, the country's first toll-free tele-helpline for street children in distress. It has responded a total of 15, 883, 547 calls from inception till March 2009 and operates in 83 cities/districts in 22 States and 3 Union Territories, through its network of 196 partner organisations across India.