Child labour means the employment of a child in any work with or without payment that strips the child of his/her childhood, education and is physically, mentally, morally and socially harmful.
In India, the child labour has been a long and common practice where children help their parents at their farms and in other activities.
Another concept followed is bonded labour and urban child labour.
- Bonded Labour is exploitation in which the child is forced to work as a payment of debt taken by his/her parent.
- Urban Child Labour is where the street children who spend almost all of their life on street work as labourers.
“According to International Labour Organization (ILO), the term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.”
UNICEF has classified child work into three categories:
- Within the family – Children are engaged in domestic household tasks without pay.
- Within the family but outside the home – Example- domestic maids, agricultural labourers, migrant labourers, etc.
- Outside the family – Example- retail shops, in restaurants and jobs, prostitution, etc.
What are the constitutional provisions against child labour in India?
The Act that regulates child labour is “The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 which defines a child as any person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age.”
The Act prohibits children from working in any occupation which includes dhabas, domestic labour, hotels, catering or construction work on railways or anywhere near the tracks, automobile garages and plastics factories, places where the process of soap manufacturing, beedi making, brick kilns, tanning and roof tiles units.
The constitution has made various provisions:
- As per Article 21(A) and Article 45–
The child has the right to Education i.e. the state shall provide compulsory and free education to the children of the age six to 14 years.
- As per Article 24 –
There is a provision under which a child below the age of 14 years cannot be employed in any mine, factory or hazardous workplace.
- As per Article 39(f) –
The child’s youth and childhood are to be protected against moral and material abandonment and exploitation.
The International Labour Organization focuses on five key issues related to child labour:
- Prohibition of child labour
- Protecting child at work
- Tackling the core causes of child labour
- Helping children to adjust to future work
- Protecting the children of working parents
What are the consequences/adverse effects of child labour on a child’s life?
- hinders the education – which affects their future as lack of education causes unemployment, and thus the result is poverty
- affects the child’s health and growth process
- is minimum wage, exploitative and dangerous
- lowers the cost of employment
As per ILO:
- The children are endangered to accidental and other injuries at work such as burns, cuts, dizziness, tiredness, fractures, lacerations, nightmares, and unreasonable fears.
- They are harmed on an economic, physical and social level which stays them for their lifetime. Such as:
- sexual assault, especially sexual exploitations of girls by adults, prostitution, rape which leads to abortions, unwanted pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted disease (STDs), alcoholism and drugs
- physical abuse involves punishment, such as caning or flogging known as corporal punishment, emotional abuse such as blaming, making bad remarks, humiliating, verbally attacking, and rejection
- emotional neglect i.e. depriving the child of family love and affection which results in hopelessness and loneliness
- physical neglect such as not giving sufficient food, shelter, medical treatment and clothing
Steps taken to eradicate Child Labour:
- Under ILO a program – The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPECL) was launched. It works to eliminate child labour by creating awareness among people.
- India is a part of IPECL to help combat with the problem of child labour.
- One of the major programs implemented in India is National Labour Project (NCLP) under which seven child labour projects are set up.
- To reduce to child labour government of India has adopted a policy called Rehabilitation.
- NGOs such as CRY (Child Rights and You), CARE India, Child Fund, etc. have also been contributing to government’s effort to tackle child labour in the country.
Child Labour is like a termite which is affecting the strength and growth of Child as an individual and as a citizen and future of the country. It has to be eradicated from routes so that the children of the country can have better future and help in the development of the country.