Protect Children From Exploitation



June 12- Child Labor Prohibition Day

Dr. Satyawan Saurabh

THE UNITED NATIONS defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, dignity, and potential, which is detrimental to their physical and mental health. Interferes with children’s school life. Child labor exists as a threat to the world today. Today’s children are the future of tomorrow. The progress and development of the country depend on them. But child labor hurts their physical and mental health. Problems such as working conditions, and abuse, premature aging, malnutrition, depression, drug dependence, physical and sexual violence, etc. detach these children from the mainstream of society. It is a violation of their rights. It deprives them of their rightful opportunity which can trigger other social problems.

World Child Labor Day

Child labor is a global challenge. Different countries have taken many steps regarding child labor. “World Child Labor Prohibition Day” is celebrated on June 12 every year to combat child labor. World Child Labor Day was started by the International Labor Organization in the year 2002. The purpose of this day is to highlight the need to protect the rights of children and to eliminate child labor violations in various forms of child labor. The United Nations sets a theme on World Child Labor Day, celebrated on June 12 each year. On this occasion, representatives of different nations, officials, and many international organizations that curb child labor take part, where the problem of child labor around the world is discussed.

There are many areas around the world where children are being employed as laborers. Earlier children used to work entirely in the fields, but now they are moving to non-agricultural jobs. A large number of child laborers are now seen in the textile industry, brick kilns, sugarcane, tobacco industry, etc. Due to poverty along with illiteracy, parents force their children to work instead of getting them enrolled in schools. In search of family income, parents encourage child labor. Ignorantly, they believe that educating children means consuming money and making them work means earning income. But they do not understand that child labor does not increase but increases poverty because children who are forced to give up education for work are doomed to lifelong paid jobs.

Child labor in statistics

Of the 152 million children involved in child labor worldwide, 73 million do hazardous work. Hazardous labor includes manual cleaning, construction, agriculture, quarries, factories, and working as a ferryman and domestic helper, etc. In this way, saffron threatens the health, safety, and moral development of children. Due to this children are deprived of a normal childhood and proper education. Child labor affects 45 million boys and 28 million girls worldwide. According to the 2011 census, more than 4.3 million children were found working in India. India alone accounts for 12 percent of the world’s total labor force. According to unofficial figures, there are around 50 million child laborers in India.

Who is behind child labor?

Child labor is not limited to India, it is a global phenomenon. Children are used in child labor because they can be easily exploited. Among the reasons why children work hard according to their age, poverty is usually the first reason. In addition, there are other reasons such as population explosion, cheap labor, non-enforcement of available laws, parents reluctant to send their children to school (they are willing to send their children to work instead of school, so as to increase family income). Another major problem responsible for child labor is trafficking. An estimated 1.2 million children are sexually abused and trafficked annually for child labor. India has a high rate of child trafficking. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one child goes missing every eight minutes. These children are mainly victims of begging, sexual exploitation, and trafficking for child labor.

Child Labor and Law 

In accordance with the constitutional order, the Constitution of India states through various sections of fundamental rights and state policy-directing principles that no child under the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engage in any other hazardous employment. The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any illegal profession and in 57 procedures which are considered to be detrimental to the life and health of the child. These professions and processes are mentioned in the schedule of law. The Factory Act 1948 prohibits the employment of children under 14 years of age. Adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 can be employed in a factory only if they have a fitness certificate from an authorized doctor. The law stipulates four-and-a-half hours per day for children between the ages of 14 and 18 and prohibits them from working at night. Significant judicial intervention in action against child labor in India came from a 1996 Supreme Court decision directing the federal and state governments to identify, employ, and provide quality education to children working in hazardous processes and occupations.

How the future will survive child labor 

It is important to create awareness about child rights and the importance of education. Educating less educated or illiterate parents about the shortcomings of child labor can help fight this crisis. Motivating parents to send their children to school can bring the dangers of child labor under control. Social workers, media persons, citizens Societies, NGOs, in fact, people from all walks of life need to unite against this issue so that our children can have a prosperous life. Let us work on an individual level to protect child rights against child labor on this World Day (June 12).

The way forward 

Child labor is a vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, and low wages. To improve the economic situation of families and prevent them from sending their children to work, the government will have to make concerted efforts towards social security programs and cash transfers. There is a need to improve the quality of educational institutions and education as well as changes in the educational infrastructure to ensure the relevance of education. There is a need to bring uniformity in the existing Indian laws dealing with child labor. Free and compulsory education must be made effective. There is a need to launch an international campaign to raise awareness of the interests and the dangers of child labor and to prevent child labor.

  • Author is a Research Scholar in Political Science at Delhi University



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