Child labour typically means the employment of children in any manual work with or without payment. According to the latest UN REPORT ON CHILD LABOUR, around 160 million children are still engaged in child labour – some as young as five. At the global level, national expenditure on social protection for children amounts to only 1.1% of GDP. It is a deep rooted social ill in India. As per the 2011 Census, in the age group 5-14 years, 10.1 million of 259.6 million constituted working children. Child labour acts as a major barrier to education, affecting both attendance and performance in school.
CAUSES OF HIGH LEVEL OF CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA:
1.The World Day Against Child Labour is celebrated on June 12 to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour.
2.The ILO Convention No. 182, which deals with the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138, that deals with the minimum age for employment, are the two main global conventions on the issue.
3.Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the world leaders in 2015, (Target 8.7) calls on all to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of all forms of child labour by 2025 as an essential step to achieving decent work for all, full and productive employment and inclusive and sustained economic growth.
1. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act(1986) to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments
2.Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 : The Amendment Act completely prohibits the employment of children below 14 years.The amendment also prohibits the employment of adolescents in the age group of 14 to 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes and regulates their working conditions where they are not prohibited.
3.On World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) in 2017, India ratified two core conventions of the International Labour Organization on child labour.
4.National Policy on Child Labour (1987), with a focus more on rehabilitation of children working in hazardous occupations and processes, rather than on prevention.
5.Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act2000 and amendment of the JJ Act in 2006: includes the working child in the category of children in need of care and protection, without any limitation of age or type of occupation. Section 23 (cruelty to Juvenile) and Section 26 (exploitation of juvenile employee) specifically deal with child labour under children in need of care and protection.
6.PENCIL Portal: The government has launched a dedicated platform viz. pencil.gov.in to ensure effective enforcement of child labour laws and end child labour.
7.The Right to Education Act 2009 has made it mandatory for the state to ensure that all children aged six to 14 years are in school and receive free education. Along with Article 21A of the Constitution of India recognizing education as a fundamental right, this constitutes a timely opportunity to use education to combat child labour in India.
8.Amendments made to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act prescribes severe punishment for people found guilty of retaining bonded labour. The amendment stipulates rigorous imprisonment for those who force children to beg, handle or carry human waste and animal carcasses.
9.The draft National Policy for Domestic Workers, when goes into force, will ensure minimum Rs.9,000 salary for household helpers.
10.Every police station in the country has a separate cell for juvenile, women and child protection.
11.Many NGOs like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, Child Rights and You, Global march against child labour, RIDE India, Child line etc. have been working to eradicate child labour in India.
12.National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme: This is a scheme by the central government of India to facilitate rehabilitation of child labourers and to aid their introduction to formal education with vocational training at NCLP Centres.
Even though there was a decline in the number of working children to 3.9% in 2011 from 5% in 2001, the decline rate is grossly insufficient to meet target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to end child labour in all forms by 2025. Awareness generation and a synergy in all the people involved in tackling this issue needs to be strengthened now more than ever because the pandemic has rendered many children helpless and homeless.