World Day Against Child Labour: Experts decry lack of political will to tackle child labour

Statistics still reveal a grim situation of child labour in the country

Bengaluru: Statistics still reveal a grim situation of child labour in the country. 10.12 million children in India still spend their childhood at work and not in a classroom, 44 percent of young girls are busy taking care of their younger siblings, 17.5 percent are engaged in industrial work and 12 million of our children are working in hazardous industries. A comparative study conducted by CRY, an NGO working for child rights divulge shocking data that indicates that the issue of child labour has been increasing in urban centers like Bengaluru. On the eve of World Day Against Child Labour, DC spoke to experts on the hurdles faced by urban centres in bringing down the menace.

Suma Ravi, CRY regional director (South) points out, “There is no doubt that the menace has been increasing in urban areas. The demand for lower class workers in these areas is more hence we see the increase in child labour and the comparative study proves it clearly.” She further added, “The biggest problem is that the system is not in place. Again there is huge trafficking that takes place in the country. Employers have realized that children can be very easily manipulated and exploited and that’s what is happening. In fact, in many sectors child labour is done in a very organized manner.”

Voicing a similar opinion Father Mather Thomas from BOSCO, an NGO that rescues children in distress says, “Despite several laws in place, child labour still remains a shocking phenomenon. If one looks at the government records, the data shows, till date very little has been done by them. There is a lack of political will. And whatever rescues that have taken place in the country, it is because of the presence of some strong NGOs. Urban areas have witnessed a rise in child labour due to the rising demand for cheap labour , which is- children.” He adds, “Besides, the act is quite vague. Currently, it says that children should not be involved in a hazardous industry but again hazardous in the act relates only to physical aspects. The new act allows children to be involved in traditional family business. But we need to understand that today most of the traditional business have moved out and have gone to the corporate sector. So, are we encouraging child labour then?”

Blanket ban sought

Child activists from all sections have criticized the new amendment that allows child labour below the age of 14 years in family enterprises and in the audio-visual entertainment industry. Suma says, “We demand a blanket ban till 18 years. Why do we forget that 15 to 18 year-olds are also children?” Father Mathew says, “Children up to 18 years should be in school and not at work.”

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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