Child Labour

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Contents

What is Child Labour?2

Why include children in the workforce?3

1) Poverty:3
2) Population Explosion:4
3) Lack of Primary Education for children5
4) Parental Illiteracy6
5) Social Apathy6
6) Family practice to inculcate traditional skills in children7 7) Urbanization and Unemployment7
8) Industrial Revolution:8

9) Ineffective Child Labour laws implementation:8
Prevalence of child labour in India or elsewhere9

Pros and Cons of Child Labour9

Advantages:10
Disadvantages:10
International Response to Child Labour11

United Nations11
International Labour Organization12
Key legislative landmarks regarding child labour12

ILO’s response to child labour13
INDUS Child Labour Project14
Response of Corporates16

Evolution of the various Constitutional and Legal Provisions16

Initiatives towards Elimination of Child Labour – Action Plan and Present Strategy18

Popular Cases related to Child Labour21

Suggestions to stop Child Labour21

Success stories of Rescued Child Labourers22

Every child comes with a message that god is not yet discouraged of man.

– Rabindranath Tagore

What is Child Labour?

There is no universally accepted definition of child labour. Governments, social activists, international organizations and other groups all have their own interpretations of the term. Generally speaking, child labour is “work for children that harms them or exploits them in some way (mentally, physically or by blocking their access to education)”. It is important to realize that not all work can be considered child labour. Children undertaking a few hours of household chores, helping out with the family shop, or doing school related work is actually beneficial for them. Such work will not hamper the education, but in fact helps improve social skills and enables to learn a new trade. While some types of work like soldiering and prostitution are universally considered unacceptable for a child, several social scientists have their own benchmarks for child labour. As UNICEF’s 1997 State of the World’s Children Report puts it, "Children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work - promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest - at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development". There are industries and individuals who employ young children and put them to work under gruelling situations. Millions of children in India and abroad are forced to work long hours threading carpets or manufacturing fireworks. The conditions under which they work can be best described as torture. Most of them do not even get to see the light of day; education is a distant dream.

Child labour is a complex problem affecting all countries of the world. Even though it mainly stems from poverty, a wide variety of social, cultural, economic and political factors are responsible for its existence. Most countries have laws against child labour. Children over the age of thirteen can perform light work; at fifteen, regular work is permissible and at eighteen years of age, one may take part in all types of work. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 400 million children between 5 and 14 years of age are currently involved in some type of paid work or labour worldwide. Even though Asia and Africa account for most instances of child labour, it is not confined to these continents. In spite of all the laws protecting children, we find that child labour is still rampant, more so in India and other south and south-east Asian countries. The various social organizations which have sprung up in order to combat it have barely managed to put a dent in the number of child labourers. In some cases, the parents of the...
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