On 12th June World Day against Child Labour is practiced all round the globe to stop child labour so that the building blocks of society can enjoy their childhood instead of holding the heavy weight of work on their innocent shoulders, World Day against Child Labour was launched in 2002 by International Labour Organization (ILO) to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. The ILO has defined child labour as, “Work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” The theme for World Day against Child Labour 2018 is ‘Generation Safe & Healthy’ and it aims to shine a spotlight on the global need to improve the safety and health of young workers and end child labour.
But sadly child labour is practiced in most states of India. 1 in every 11 children in India works to earn a living, according to statistics by ActionAid India. According to a UNICEF report the number of child labour decreased from 11.3 million in 2001 to 8.1 million in 2011 in the rural areas but in the urban areas the number increased from 1.3 million in 2001 to 2 million in 2011. The irony is that child labour is practiced more in urban, developed and educated areas than the rural and uneducated areas.The number of children engaged in child labour are between the age 5 to 14 and 4.5 million of those working children are girls while 5.6 million are boys. There are five states which are India’s biggest child labour employers – Bihar with 1 million children working, Uttar Pradesh with 2.1 million, Rajasthan with 0.8 million, Madhya Pradesh with 0.7 million and Maharashtra with 0.72 million. Over half of India’s total child labour population work in these 5 states. India’s biggest hub of child labour is Uttar Pradesh with almost 20% of India’s child labourers. According to a Campaign Against Child Labour (CAC) study, India has 1,26,66,377 child labourers of which UP has 19,27,997 child labourers. Children are mostly involved in manual works in cotton growing, match box making, lock making factories, construction sites, mining and stone quarrying and tea gardens, these are the areas which employ the most child labourers and the above mentioned states have multitude of the said works.
There are many international and national legislation and laws relating to the practice to stop and end child labour but their implementation is positive only on paper, in reality the laws are ineffective and the child labour has moved from the children working in the factories to them working at home – their own or others. Corruption in the government and system also plays a major role in the continuation of child labour. A growing phenomenon is using children as domestic workers in urban areas. The conditions in which they work is completely unregulated and they are often made to work without food, and very low wages, resembling situations of slavery. There are even cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of child domestic workers. The argument for domestic work is often that families have placed their children in these homes for care and employment. Poverty, lack of good schools, lack of social security and the growth of the informal economy are considered to be the key causes of child labour in India. UNICEF and India has joined hands and are working together to ensure that children are protected from work and exploitation which is harmful to their development They are working to ensure that children remain in economically stable family homes and get the opportunity to go to school and be educated.
Child labour has been decreasing at an extremely low rate of 2.2% per year from 2001 to 2011, as per an analysis of census data by non-governmental organization CRY (Child Rights and You). Even after 70 years of India’s independence the child labour is still in practice all over the country. The people need to be aware that the children are the ones who will shape the future of the nation but first their future need to be shaped through education. Education is the key to end child labour. Once the children are educated and once they learn how to think and what is their role in the society they themselves will take the mantle of Ending the child labour. So take a pledge to educate a child to End Child Labour.