Children must be in schools and not at work
New Delhi, 12 June | A roundtable on the issue of child labour organised by ActionAid India with support from British High Commission in Delhi as world observes Day Against Child Labour today.
Child Labour is one of the worst forms of child rights violations. Unfortunately, India is home to the largest number of child labourers in the world. According to 2011 census there are 1,01,28,663 child workers in India between 5 to 14 and there are 3,02,16,380 child workers between 15 to 19 (roughly 40 million child workers between 5 and 18 years of age).
Almost three years have passed after the new amended Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Amendment Act, 2016 (CLPRAA, 2016) has come into force. In this context participants at the roundtable discussed various issues related to child labour, the progress made after the enactment of CLPRAA and the scope for improvement. Besides, discussed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, the legislation which is closely related to child labour and attempts to cover all the aspects which were not covered under Bonded Labour Act, Immoral Traffic Act, Juvenile Justice Act and some section of IPC. This much needed legislation has not come into force yet, even after several consultations, reviews and modifications.
Swami Agnivesh, founder of Bonded Labour Liberation Front, present at the event said, “Every child till the age of 18 must attend school and that is how children will not be made available for any kind of labour. People worship idols and bathe them in milk but ignore the plight of God’s own creation. The issue of child labour cannot be looked at only through legalistic lenses, we need to look at it from a moral perspective as well.”
Sutapa Sanyal, Former DG, Uttar Pradesh Police, Mahila Samman Prakosht Unit, one of the speaker at the event said, “Need for capacity building of judicial agencies to combat the hurdles in ending child labour. Law enforcement and civil society needs to work together with communities to get the results in working against child labour.”
Throwing light on the negative relation between ‘Education and Child Labour’ Ambarish Rai, National Convener, RTE Forum said, “Education has a direct bearing on child labour. Children who are out of school are engaged in some form of child labour. Besides, girl children often quit school at secondary level because of security concerns. This issue need to be brought to the political front, it needs to be addressed as a political issue and not just a social one. Need for a peoples movement, we can not only rely on political parties.”
Prof. Shrinivas Goli from Jawahar Lal University while speaking on ‘Child Marriage and Child Labour ’said, “Millions of children mostly girls are performing child labour due to their illegal marriage. Child marriage should be seen and considered as child labour. People need to understand the cost of inaction. The issue of child labour needs to be brought to media attention.”
Joyatri Ray of Equations, a Bangalore based organisation, while speaking on the topic ‘Tourism and Child Labour’ said, “Tourism industry (formal/informal, organised/unorganised) including its supply chain and all tourism service providers – guides, travel agents, tour operators, transporters, local vendors, accommodation facilities and hoteliers should be made accountable by law to report cases of child exploitation to the concerned authorities. Tourism industry should develop a self-regulatory mechanism that ensures that their operation by no means is perpetuating any form of child exploitation within their premises as well where they operate.”
All the participants said that there is a need to build the synergy among all stakeholders. All the diverse right based groups should come together and build a strong campaign to highlight the plight of child labourers. Specific points emerged like redrafting the list of hazardous industries, need to regularised the home based work and need more data on children involved in home based work. As per Sustainable Development Goals Target 4.1 all children should get free and compulsory secondary education; and as per SDG Target 8.7 all forms of child labour should be eradicated upto the age of 18 years. Hence to fulfil these international obligations, the Government of India should amend both RTE Act and CLPRA and protect all rights of all children upto 18 years.
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