by Pravratti Bhardwaj
Children are the greatest gift, and childhood is an important stage of human development because it holds the potential for any society’s future development. Children who are raised up in an environment that promotes their intellectual, physical, and social health become responsible and productive members of society. Every nation’s future is linked to the current state of its children. By performing work when they are too young for the task, children unnecessarily lower their current welfare or future income earning capabilities. In times of extreme economic distress, children are forced to forego educational opportunities in order to work in jobs that are mostly exploitative, as they are usually underpaid and work in hazardous conditions. Due to poor economic conditions, parents decide to send their children to work as labour.
As a result, it comes as no surprise that poor families send their children to work at a young age. One of the most disturbing aspects of child labour is that children are sent to work at the expense of their education. Child labour has a significant impact on school attendance rates, and the length of a child’s workday is negatively related to his or her ability to attend school. It also limits children’s rights to access and benefit from education and denies them the fundamental right to attend school. Thus, child labourjeopardises children’s education and has a negative impact on their health and safety.
Various definitions and prohibition
According to International Labour Organization (ILO), child labour is defined as “work situations in which children are forced to work on a regular basis to earn a living for themselves and their families, and as a result, they remain backwards educationally and socially in a situation that is exploitative and harmful to their health and physical and mental development.” Children are separated from their families, are frequently denied educational and training opportunities, and are forced to Under Factories Act of 1948, any work done by children that interferes with their full physical development, their opportunities for a desirable minimum of education, or their need for recreation by a child under the age of 14 years under either compulsion development or their desirable opportunities for a child voluntarily in an organized or unorganized minimum of education is referred to as “child labour”.
The worst forms of child labour are those in which children work more than nine hours a day, earn less than the minimum wage or no wages at all, work in hazardous conditions for their health and safety, lack access to education, and work outside of their family’s home. Children are the nation’s future; they are vulnerable due to their age and physical strength, and they cannot plan for their future or understand the outcome of any work.
As a result, they should be protected from exploitation and given opportunities for physical and mental development. As a result, the nation bears responsibility for the protection of children. The Indian constitution also protects children from exploitation and calls for the abolition of child labour in our society. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution provides that children under the age of 14 years shall not be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any hazardous employment The Government of India is also committed to ensuring the protection, rights, and development of children in our country. To achieve this goal, the government has enacted various legislations, such as the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act 1986, which prohibits children from working in particularly hazardous and dangerous activities.
Different types of child labour
It is an increase in the involvement of children in home-based work and also in the informal sector. Many children are involved in the domestic, in hazardous factories, rag-picking etc. different types of child labour are given under-
- Child Trafficking: Buying or selling of children for labour purposes or for sexual exploitation.
- Slavery: Slavery is when one person works for an additional person. Slaves don’t have the facility to demand anything. They have to figure consistent with the commands of their master.
- Debt Bondage: When people cannot pay their loans due to which they are forced to work as labour. lead adult lives at a young age.
- Serfdom: When a person works on another person’s land. This is known as serfdom. The labour will either be paid or unpaid.
- Forced Labour: When a child works against his will.
- Beggary: When poor parents don’t have any other way to earn a livelihood they often beg on roads. For getting more money and gaining sympathy they cut their child’s body parts.
Effects of child labour
- If there is an increase in child labour in a country, it shows that the government and system failed in providing basic necessities to its citizen.
- Children become the victim of mental as well as physical health because at this age they are mentally emotional and not even mature.
- The child is paid less.
- Not getting a basic education.
Causes of Child Labour
The causes of child labour in India is quite similar to any other country. Everyone agrees that child labour is an epidemic but most families know they are not having much choice if they are not pitting their child to work then they won’t have enough food on the table for everyone although many kids in India has never been sent to school like today, little children are doing work in factories, sweetshops and their luxury working conditions often get more media coverage, the bulk of child labour in India happens in fields where the child has to do hazardous works while kids are more sensitive to dangerous insects and animal bits which happens mostly in the manufacturing sector. Things are going to be changed as the government of a country is trying to improve the quality of education as well as of schools and making their programs more practical and relevant to children lives. Another problem is parents are not earning enough to give sustain living to their family main reason for child labour in our country is poverty. We work in manufacturing or in agriculture, people are systematically underpaid. The main causes of child labour are poverty, illiteracy of parents, social and economic circumstances of the family, lack of awareness related to harmful effects, lack of access to basic and quality education, cultural values and surroundings of the society in which they are living, high rate of unemployment and underemployment it also plays a vital role or increases the rate of child labour. Children who are not going to schools due to family indebtedness are more prone to child labour. Many girls because of the social disadvantage groups are at a higher risk of being forced into child labour.
Major causes of child labour in India are;
- Poverty: children are considered as a helping hand in their families, mostly in developed countries it is impossible to control child labour as children not only support their families they also provide them with a living because of poverty rate of unemployment and underemployment are also very high, so the parents have to send their children to work on low wages.
- Previous debts: due to the poor economic conditions of people they take loans but they are not having sufficient money to pay back the loan so they not only work the whole day to pay off the loan but also put their children to do work so that they could pay off the loan before the time and easily
- Bonded labour: children work for long hours in the sun and they are impoverished of water and food, these children are rarely paid.
- Professional needs: In bangles making industries require soft hands rather than rough hands for making bangles in their industries so, they prefer children instead of adults to do work in their industries.
- Domestic help: small children work for educated people and they violating the law by providing employment to children they also hire children to take care of their homes as well as their children.
- Forced begging: families who are not able to support themselves forced their children to beg on the roads in subhuman conditions, they get their children to maimed in order to get more money from the people.
- Child sex workers: girls who attained the age of puberty are forced by their families into prostitution in lieu of promise they would be given opportunities to do glamorous jobs.
Consequences of Child Labour
Children are prone to accidents and many other hazardous things at the workplace, such types of injuries cause them social-economic harms which continue for their entire lives. Injuries like burning, lacerations, cuts, fractures, are very common nowadays. Sexual abuse, exploitation of girls, rape, drugs, STDs, AIDS, alcoholism are also consequences of child labour.
Children also face physical neglect in food, clothes, shelter, and medical facilities because of this they are not able to go to schools due to which they are deprived of a basic level of education due to which they are living in poverty. Children are prone to physical abuse which leads to physical deformity. It also affects the economic welfare of the country to a large extent, children who are not able to get a basic education are not able to develop themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and psychologically, children are nor adults or not considered as equal to adults because they are not having the strength to work for longer hours because they are totally become exhausted and this reduces their physical strength which makes them physically weak or prone to diseases.
India has a long term adverse effect of child labour the economy of a country will only improve when the country has an educated, skilled workforce, technology and the younger generation will become the part of human capital in future, if child labour is continued in India then it will be a trade-off with human capital accumulation. More than 70% of children are child labour in the agricultural sector because it requires less-skilled workers and the remaining children are working in heavy industries.
- In C Mehta v/s State of Tamil Nadu, the SC of India held that according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution everyone has a right to receive education by a child until they completed the age of 14 years is an integral part of life and personal liberty.
- In U.D.R v/s Union of India, the SC of India held that construction of work is hazardous occupation SC directing the State Government to amend the schedule of the Employment of Children Act, 1038.
- In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v/s Union of India, the SC of India held that today’s children should be developed to be responsible and productive children should be assured by social health.
- In Salal Hydro Project v/s State of Jammu and Kashmir in this case child labour is an economic problem it cannot be solved by legislation, so long poverty continues the problem of child eradication is impossible.
Child labour is still a very big challenge for a country, this is spreading day by day in every sector of the economy. It is the duty of the government to separate mechanisms for the effective implementation of education policy in a country. The negligent behaviour of parents involves their children in a wok which is risky for their lives. Various organizations violating every child rights, parents of the children also understand that the temporary gain is not helpful to their family. Government should make some efforts by taking the help of NGOs in the area of providing compulsory education and so on, the problem of child labour is only eradicated if there are joint efforts of both government and NGOs for improving the lives of children.
This article has been solely written by Pravratti Bhardwaj, A student of Banasthali vidhyapith, Rajasthan. THE जनता does not claim on writer’s personal views.