Child labour destroys many young lives. What can you do about it?

Childhood is one of the most beautiful stages of life. But unfortunately not all are privileged to attend schools; there are many children who work as domestic help, or in dhabas, firework industries and their childhood is traded for money. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.”

India accounts for the second highest number of child laboureres in the world. Africa accounts for the highest number of children employed and exploited. Andhra Pradesh has the largest number of child labourers after Uttar Pradesh according to the 2001 census.

“World Day Against Child Labour” was observed on June 12. This day was first launched by ILO in 2002 to highlight the plight of these children.

For money

Why do we have so many children working as labourers? Mira, a Std. X student of Gitanjali Devashala, says, “Due to financial status the elders ask their children to work. And they have no option.” Huzefa Mohammed of Diksha School observes, “Child labour is an offence committed by parents.”

Many experts blame the system, poverty, overpopulation and adult unemployment as the reason for child labour. Parental education is another reason for child labour. Most employers employ children in their industries or workshops for long hours under harmful environment and pay them very low income. Cheap labour is another main cause of child labour.

The worst form of child labour is bonded child labour. In 1976, the Indian Parliament enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act: whereby declaring bonded labour illegal. However this system still continues to plague society.

Addressing the mushrooming problem of child labour in India, the Parliament passed The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. The purpose of this Act was to declare child labour as illegal and make it a punishable act by any citizen of India.

However, the situation has not improved, nor has it been brought under control. For that matter it has worsened.

The problem of child labour still exists in spite of the presence of many laws, due to poor enforcement of these laws.

Mira says, “Instead of expecting the government to act upon the situation, if anyone finds a child labourer anywhere he or she should immediately inform the police.”