VHAI demands end to child labour

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Srinagar: Demanding an immediate end to child labour, public health advocates Friday sought an urgent action from the Union government to eradicate child labour and save the children from the exploitative practices of the bidi industry and similar hazardous occupation.

In a statement issued here on the ‘World Day against Child Labour’, health advocacy group, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI) said that India is  home to the largest number of child labourers in the world as the country has close to 13 million children working as child labourers (Census 2001).

“The Constitution of India prohibits children below the age of 14 from working and the law bans child labour, however allowing children to work in home-based industries. (Proviso to Section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. This loophole has been used by the bidi industry to circumvent the law. The Union Cabinet recently on May 13 cleared amendments to the child labour law banning all forms of child labour below the age of 14, but still allows children below the age of 14 to work in select ‘non-hazardous’ family enterprises,” the statement added.

The bidi rolling industry has been forcing the involvement of children especially minor girls at the age between eight and ten to join as part of a working family. Children comprise 15 to 25% of the total employment in the bidi industry, the statement added.

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