World Day against Child
Labour 2012 by UNICEF
On the twelfth anniversary of the World Day against Child
Labour, on June 12, 2012 UNICEF joins its partners in calling for action to tackle the underlying
poverty that leads to child labour. Improving access to quality education,
particularly for girls in poor and rural settings, is a key part of an effective overall approach.
Girls are all too often exposed to
some of the worst forms of child labour.
According to Thomas Chandy of the international NGO, ‘Save the
Children,' child labourers are deprived of schooling, good health and
nutrition, exposed to hazards at workplace and vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and violence.
“These affect the growth and development of the child and limit his or
her potential to grow into an empowered and productive person,” Mr.Chandy told PTI.
Around the world, many of the estimated 100 million girls involved in child
labour undertake similar types of work as boys, but often also endure additional
hardships and face extra risks. Moreover, girls are all too often exposed to
some of the worst forms of child labour, often in work situations that are out
of sight, hidden behind the walls of factories, deep in fields or behind the doors of their own homes.
“Many girls work in the same sort of agriculture and manufacturing jobs as boys
do, but girls carry a higher burden by taking on long hours for unpaid household
inside the home and working elsewhere,” said Susan Bissell, UNICEF Chief of
Child Protection. “What the public does not see is the domestic work done in
other households – this exposes young girls to other dangers and risks.”
According to the International Labour Organization, the worst forms of child
labour include practices such as selling or trafficking children, the forced
recruitment of child soldiers, using or offering children for prostitution or
the production of pornography, and using, procuring or offering children for
illicit activities or any other activities likely to harm children. The most recent ILO global report on child labour states that in 2004 there were
126 million children engaged in hazardous work that endangers the child’s
safety, health and development. It is the most vulnerable such as girls, orphans, ethnic and minority groups and street children – the majority of the
out-of-school population – who are exploited.
“Education provides a safe environment for children, but when a family has to
choose between a boy or a girl attending school, so often the girl loses out,”
said Bissell. “Improving schooling for children from poor communities, ensuring
the availability of flexible and properly funded education programmes for child
labourers and other marginalized children, and abolishing tuition fees in
primary education are ways to address the conditions that can lead to child labour.”
A partnership created in 2000 between UNICEF, IKEA and the Government of India
to address the root causes of child labour in the carpet belt of India. As a
result, a programme was implemented in 500 villages in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh
region of India that made it possible for 80,000 out-of-school children to get
an education. Since then, IKEA and UNICEF have aimed to expand coverage by
reaching more villages in the carpet and metal ware regions of Uttar Pradesh and the cotton and cottonseed regions of Andhra Pradesh.
( The figures quoted are from the International Labour Organization.)
According to the UN labor agency, there are 218 million child laborers around
the world. Nearly half are girls, and more than half of those girls do hazardous
or abusive work: everything from mining to prostitution. Child labor is, to a great extent, driven by poverty, the ILO says, and when
poverty is worsened by a slumping economy, more children are pulled from school and sent out to work, often far from friends and family.
Child Labour in India
As per the 2001 Census, there are 1.26 crore working children in the country in the age group of 5-14
years. This occupation includes children working in the hazardous and non-hazardous.
The total working children in the age group of 5-14 years is only 5% of total population of children.
The enforcement of the provisions of Child Labour (Prohibition &
Regulation) Act, 1986 is being regularly taken up with the States at various levels in the Ministry of Labour. During 1997-98 to 2006-07 27.69
lakh inspections were conducted and 218451 violations were identified, prosecutions were launched in 77617 cases resulting in 22657 convictions.
National Child Labour Project (NCLP)
The National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme was started to rehabilitate the Child
Labour. The Scheme was launched in 12 child labour endemic districts in 1988. The number of districts covered under the Scheme has been substantially enhanced to 271 districts under the current Plan.
Under the NCLP Scheme, children found working in hazardous occupations are withdrawn from work and put into special school for preparing them to join mainstream educational system
· The Special Schools/Rehabilitation Centre provides formal/non-formal education, vocational training, and supplementary nutrition @ Rs.5 /- per child,
stipend @Rs.100 /- per month to children withdrawn from employment and health care facilities. Under the NCLP Scheme 9800 special schools have been sanctioned in the districts with
sanctioned strength of 4.75 lakh children. 5.21 lakh children have been mainstreamed into formal system so far.
· Tracking & Monitoring: The Ministry had set up a Working Group on Tracking and Monitoring of child labour to recommend an appropriate tracking and
monitoring system for child labour covered under the NCLP Scheme.
· Protocol on Migration & Trafficking of children for labour: Ministry is taking number of steps for rescue, safe
repatriation and rehabilitation of migrant and trafficked child
labour. Towards this end, a Protocol on Prevention, Rescue, Repatriation and Rehabilitation of trafficked child labour has been
issued to the state Governments to facilitate the rehabilitation of such children.
· A comprehensive exercise to evaluate the NCLPs
in the country was conducted in 2007 by the independent agencies and was coordinated by the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute.
· Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act
· Consistent with the Constitutional provisions, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act was enacted in 1986.
According to the Act, ‘Child’ means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.
Presently, 16 hazardous occupations and 65 processes are listed under the Act, where the employment of children is prohibited.
· Any person who employ any child is liable for punishment with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to one
year or with fine which shall not be less than Rs.10,000 but which may extend to Rs.20,000 or both.
· The Government has issued a notification
prohibiting employment of children w.e.f. 10th October 2006 as domestic workers or servants; in dhabas (road-side eateries), restaurants, hotels, motels, tea-shops,
resorts, spas or other recreational centers. “The law is fine, but the problem remains in its implementation at the
ground level. And unless the community decides to act against employing children, the law can't alone solve the problem,” said Dola
Mahapatra, national director, Child Fund India.
Child labourers in Rajasthan
Within the country, after UP and Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan has the highest number of child
labourers. One child out of four in Rajasthan works in handicraft trades like embroidery, and carpet weaving. According to the 2001 census there are 12,62570 child labour in
Rajasthan aged between five to 14. But surprisingly in the past 21 years only 14,237 of these children have been rehabilitated. That means barely one per cent of the child labour in the state have been
given a new start in life. And what is more astonishing is that in the past two years, the labour department in Rajasthan has launched only one operation to rescue child
labour, that too was with the help of an NGO were 21 children were rescued from a saree embroidery unit.
One child out of four in Rajasthan spends his life working to support the family. The Rajasthan government has recently set up a
commission to protect the rights of the children, but clearly a lot more needs to be done to give these children back their lost childhood.