India has the world’s highest number of children working as labourers. As per 2017 findings, over 31 million children in the 4-14 age group are engaged in work. These children will miss out on formal education, rest, play, and recreation, and not develop the social and life skills. Almost 50 percent of children living on the street, or from homeless families work for a living, and do not study. There are many circumstances which force children to enter labour, or parents to push their children to work.
1. Child labour in industry
Some industries are India’s biggest violators of child rights acts. Child labour is found in agriculture, stone-cutting, mining industry, zari and embroidery. 10 million bonded children in India are working in professions like beedi-rolling, brick kilns, carpet weaving, commercial sexual exploitation, construction, fireworks and matches factories, hotels, hybrid cottonseed production, leather, mines, quarries, silk, synthetic gems, etc. Addressing this, NGOs aims to sensitise both businesses and citizens to not accept the use of child labour.
2. Stronger policy and implementation
Save the Children is fighting child labour through working for stronger policy reform and implementation. The NGO undertakes programs of community engagement across India, and takes the citizens voice to state and national level governance. Stronger implementation is critical to ending child labour, abuse, corporal punishment, trafficking, and other aspects of child rights violation. In 2013, for example, Save the Children worked the J&K government to create a stronger, more comprehensive Juvenile Justice (2013). Other legislative victories include the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 strengthened with the NGO’s intervention.
3. Creating awareness
Enabling stronger awareness about child rights in the universal psyche is a strong component of addressing child labour. Save the Children works to achieve this through reports, relief, and other initiatives – and showcases achievements to showcase change. It also uses high-publicity campaigns, mega anti-child labour events involving former child labourers, civil activists, government officials and celebrities, to forge public opinion.
4. Preventing exploitation during disaster
It is common to hear of predators ‘stealing’ or luring children in the wake of disasters in India. The nation’s geographical location and climate conditions make it prone to disasters like floods and droughts. After disasters like the South India floods, which affected lakhs of children, Save The Children’s teams swung into action, with a massive long-term rapid relief plan. Thousands of households with hygiene kits, household kits, education kits, and solar lamps, and raised funds for shelter, food Baskets, Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) and other resources were provided by the NGO. This kept children and communities together and safe in difficult times.
A blanket ban on child labour
While the 2016 amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 envisioned a comprehensive ban on child labour. The legislation has diluted its scope by defining children as anyone under the age of 14 (even though the universal age for freedom to work is 18). It allows children (ages 14 -18) to work in family-run establishments, as well as carpet manufacturing, glass furnaces, brick kilns and ‘home-based work’ and ‘family enterprises’. This is an indirect approval to child approval, and sustains demand for child trafficking. As per NCRB data, children in the workplace face the risk of sexual abuses.
Addressing child labour requires a multi-pronged strategy that engages different stakeholders. NGOs like Save the Children unite civil society and concerned citizens to fight against child labour, and also educates children and adults with information about child labour. After helping establish opinion, they leverage it in the media, and through public policy initiatives. Support an NGO like Save the Children. You will receive with a substantial donation tax rebate, and the satisfaction of making a difference.