Article by – Shishir Tripathi
Intern at Hariyali foundation in collaboration with Educational News
Every child has the right to live a beautiful childhood filled with a lot of memories of laughter, enjoyment and mischief. It is basically a very lovely process of modeling an infant into a responsible, smart, endearing, productive and a well developed human being. At this tender age, proper nurturing of a kid is really important. A child demands attention, love, care and a hand above his head that will protect him from all the adversities and problems in life.
But not every kid is blessed to have a childhood as described above. According to UNICEF and ILO, the total number of children engaged in child labor, within the age group 5-17 in the year 2013, is 168 million.
Talking about India itself becomes far more essential and sensible too, when one is living in India. According to 2011 census, out of 259.64 billion children, 10.1 million children were working as child laborers within the age group of 5-17.
The constitution of India in the Fundamental rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy prohibits child labor in any mine or factory or castle or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
The Child Labor Prohibition and Prevention Act was passed on 23 December, 1986. Further in 2016, certain amendments were made in the act. The amendment has introduced the concept of adolescent labor for the first time. An adolescent has been defined as a person between the ages of 14-18 years. The amendment permits employment of adolescent labor except in hazardous processes or occupation. The number of hazardous occupations and processes has been reduced from 83 to only 3. The offences under the Act have now been made compoundable and cognizable notwithstanding the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Child Labor Act provides for rehabilitation of children and adolescent who have been victims under the provisions of the Child Labor Act. It provides for setting up of the Child and Adolescent Labor Rehabilitation Fund in which all the amounts of penalty have to be realized. Liability has been affixed upon the parents and guardian of the affected child/children separately from the employers. The Act provides for increased penalty and imprisonment which shall not be less than 6 months and may extend up to 2 years and fine which may vary between Rs.20, 000 to Rs. 50,000.
Despite all this, incidents of child thefts are increasing day by day. Very few of those get rescued by Police. The others, where do they go, what they do, how do they live, are all unanswered questions to the families and the society.
But deep down everyone knows that those missing children are the ones cleaning dirty utensils in the roadside dhabas and in the fancy restaurants of city too. They are forced to do begging, they are made physically handicapped, they are brutally beaten and even exploited sexually. They are sent to abroad to work in mines, and do child labor. They are sold as servants to the so called big people and they even face trafficking basically meant for their sexual exploitation.
According to the latest data from National Crime Records Bureau, 63,407 children went missing in 2016 in India. On an average, 174 children in India go missing per day.
All over the world, children are being exploited through child labor. This mentally and physically dangerous work interferes with schooling and long-term development. Innocent little children are thrown into such a hazardous world that put them at the risk of getting a disease, being physically handicapped and simply death.
A child needs love. Love by his family, and the society. He has full right to live an amazing childhood and the right to cherish memories to be made with family and school too. Several NGOs are working to prevent children from child labor and providing them the right childhood by the means of either sending them to their real parents or in some cases adoption.
Through this article just carry one lesson with yourself that a small attempt by your side to stop child labor can help a child living a beautiful childhood and hence a beautiful life.
Whenever one witnesses a child being engaged in child labor, or finds a missing child, they must report the police station or call the helpline 1098.
A missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare. He or she can be your child too.
Hence, wake up and stand boldly against Child Labor.