As June 12, declared by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as World Day against Child Labour, approaches, the issue of child labour comes to the fore.
The sight of scraggy children working in hotels, restaurants, hazardous industries, garages, as domestic help, in plantations, or as rag-pickers is a common one in India, even though child labour is considered a serious violation of human rights and negation of social justice.
In Mysore, a total of 193 child labourers were rescued and rehabilitated in five schools across the district: three in Mysore and one each in Hunsur, and H.D. Kote. These rehabilitation schools are managed by non-government organisations (NGOs) with assistance from national and State assistance. Three run with assistance from the National Child Labour Project (NCLP), and the other two from the State Child Labour Project (SCLP), according to Mohammad Zaheer Basha, District Labour Officer, who spoke to The Hindu.
Of the 193 children rescued, 111 are in NCLP-run schools while the rest are in the SCLP-run schools. The children remain in the schools for one year, after which they are admitted to classes in government schools.
Most of the children were rescued by NGOs, says Mr. Basha. After going through various social and family problems, the children find themselves forced to work. “We carry out hundreds of raids every month, but we end up with very few cases for want of proof,” he said.
According to Mr. Basha, 10 children were rescued in 2010–11 and eight in 2011–12. As for the current year, only four have been found so far. Fines to the tune of Rs. 55,000 were imposed in five cases in 2010–11; Rs. 95,000 in 2011–12; and Rs. 40,000 in the four cases this year. Mr. Basha felt that the drive against child labour would be more effective if the officers involved worked in close coordination. The authorities often collaborate with the NGOs, who have been asked to provide details of the children rescued by them (such as school drop-outs and rag-pickers) to verify their ages or address of the parent — which is often unavailable, Mr. Basha said. Officials who have acted as Child Protection Officers under the Child Labour Act will be involved in a sensitisation workshop after the function on June 12, he added.
However, the bigger question is: will the ILO’s aim to eradicate child labour in the world by 2016 become a reality?