Children are the gifts; they are the precious gifts presented by Almighty God to human life for filling the world with smile, happiness, and hope. Children are the future citizens; it is childhood which determines a child’s future, his/her life and their worthy contributions to the world. Thus it becomes an important aspect for us, for everyone in the society, and for the Government to protect, nourish and work for the overall welfare of children of a particular Nation and the children of the World as a whole. When we discuss about child labour, we know that it is a curse upon the God gifted little ones on Earth. Child Labour, in general, means the employment of children in any work with or without payment. Every child out of school in the age group of 5 to 14 years, children who are paid in work, children who work outside the homes or children who in hazardous industries can be said to be child labourers. According to Stein and Davies, child labour means any work by children that interferes with their full physical development, the opportunities for a desirable minimum education and for their needed recreation.
History of child labour can be traced to some dark realms of industrialisation. But a more detailed study of this heinous, shameful practice can reveal that child labour was there much before industrialisation in various forms like in child slavery. If we turn the pages of History we see that there was a custom for youths from the Mediterranean basin to serve as aides, charioteers and armed bearers to their adult counterparts. A few of such examples can be found in Bibles when David serves his King Soul; we find the examples of Hercules and Hylash in Greek Mythology as well. In Greece this practice was considered to be an educational tradition and boys were considered to be an efficient fighting force. Hitler Youth was an official organisation in the Nazi Army. During the battle of Berlin, this youth force was a major part of the German Defences. In India, children used to help and accompany their parents in agricultural and other household activities in ancient times. Thus we see that child labour is not quite a new thing to the world. But during 1780 and 1840s, there was a massive increase in child exploitation. During the industrial revolution, it was very common to find children working in factories. In 1788, more than 60% of workers in textile mills of England and Scotland were children. Since industrialisation, children have been seen working in factories, mines, some having their own small business like selling food, flowers, polishing shoes, serving as waiters in restaurants and as domestic servants as well. The most controversial and worst forms of child labour and exploitation included military use of children, child trafficking, organised begging and child prostitution etc. So these are the various forms of child labour that are being present in today’s societies over the world.
Causes of Child Labour
India accounts for the second highest number where child labour of the world is concerned. Africa accounts for the highest number of children employed and exploited. Over population, poverty, parental illiteracy, lack of proper education, urbanisation, availability of cheap child labour are some common causes of wide-spread child labour. Parental ignorance regarding the bad effects of child labour, the ineffectiveness of child labour laws in terms of implementation, non-availability and non-accessibility to schools are some of the other factors which encourages the phenomenon of child labour. It is also very difficult to immature minds and undeveloped bodies to understand and organise themselves against exploitation in the absence of adult guidance. Statistics show that in India, between 2007 and 2009, 5,392 instances of violations of the child labour prohibition laws were detected. Prosecution was launched only in six cases. The period saw only three convictions. In 2006-07,...