India’s fight against child labor gained new impetus with the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children in 1992. India became a signatory in a bid to be seen as an ethical labor market to international corporations. However, despite decades of work, the practice of child labor in India still continues to persist with more than 80 lakh children (5-14 years) toiling in fields, factories, shops and elsewhere. Thankfully, a combination of successive government policies, as well as stringent civil society initiatives by organisations like Save the Children have demonstrated an assert direction on fighting for child rights. Combined with the increasing number of socially conscious corporations and citizens who donate to charity, child rights are today a cause for everyone.
Parental awareness of the evils of child labor can prevent disruption in schooling and pushing of children into labor. Lack of understanding on the part of parents creates situations where traffickers prey upon children and many trafficked children end up in child labor. Aware communities can comprehend and respond to children’s issues much more effectively. Awareness also ensures that communities tap growth, education, employment, and enterprise opportunities and create a socially and economically developed society in which children suffer much less. NGOs use community events, sports, arts and theatre to educate communities about the importance of child rights. NGOs also create income resources, educational resources, and access to information services – all with an aim to help children and their communities march ahead.
More stringent laws and effective implementation
Policymaking is essential to long lasting social change, and lobbying for better laws involves demonstrating how change can bring considerable benefit. NGOs research, and showcase findings regarding exploited children, and use case studies to establish how their work benefits children. Driving policy-level change requires relationships with several stakeholders – media, lawmakers, citizens, fellow civil society members, etc. Many cases have been filed under the recent Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (2012) and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, which have successfully translated in increased convictions, demonstrating how legislating can curb child trafficking. NGOs also maintain coordination with district and state level authorities for a vigilant eye on the implementation of pro-child laws.
Sending more children to school
India has the world’s largest educational system, yet faces the hurdles of low literacy, due to low enrolment. Organisations like Save the Children execute several initiatives to boost children’s enrolment in schools. The organisation maps out-of-school children and those who are at risk of dropping out and ensures that they enter into the fold of education.
Save the Children’s child education achievements includes the following:
i. Creating ‘Inclusive Learner Friendly Environments’ (ages 3-18 years) across settings as diverse as slums and villages
ii. Create a dialogue with children and families to send children to school, provide admissions assistance
iii. Create fun, meaningful experiences in school, with child-friendly and interactive teaching-learning methods
vi. Generate funding for, and establish libraries and infrastructure like computers, sports equipment and Mobile Learning Centres
vi. Successfully bringing back out-of-school children (dropouts and both never-been-to-school children), street children, and child laborers to school
Discouraging people to employ children in homes, shops, factories, etc
Child labor gets a resounding approval when Indian businesses openly use it, in industries like retail, hospitality, and menial work. NGOs today sensitise trade organisations to end this social evil, and educate locals about reporting instances of child labor at businesses and homes. Save the Children has to its credit getting India’s biggest IT market declared child labor-free.
Supporting NGOs like Save the Children
Save the Children offers immediate aid to victims of child labor, while also working for long-term societal change through policy change. The NGO works to ensure that existing policies are followed through with action. It has rescued 9337 children from child labor, in pan-India ongoing relief and rescue missions. Present in 120 countries, Save the Children focuses on education and a new life of millions of children affected by armed conflict and exploitation. The NGO works with state and national level authorities, including Police departments of states to prevent child exploitation incidence in states such as Punjab, Delhi, Bihar, J&K, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam where vulnerability of children is high.
Initiatives from civil society have given lakhs of children the means of living dignified life where, they can cherish their childhood. Save the Children has forged powerful relationship with government, national and International bodies to make child rights a “movement”. Fighting child labor requires a multi-pronged push, and there is a need to make this a people’s issue. While officials and government can only institute policies, ignoring everyday child abuse and malnourishment must also be attacked at an individual level, wherever possible – so
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