CHILD LABOUR: A Case Study

January 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

CASE OF RAJU: a child labourer from Bihar

Definition of Child Labour:
Child labour is basically exploiting the underage children in any form, forcing them to work illegally which harms or abuses them. This abuse may be physical, mental or sexual; depriving the children (child labourers) of their right of basic education. Be it Asia, Africa, U.S.A or Europe, child abuse is prevalent everywhere.

According to the International Labour Organization(ILO), "child labour is where children are deprived of their childhood and futures because they are forced to work long hours for little or no money, deprived of education and in conditions harmful to their mental and physical development." An ILO report goes on to say that "child labour" is almost certainly the single most important source and form of child abuse and child exploitation in much of the world today." Child labour is "work carried out to the detriment of the child and in violation of international law and national legislation."

There are some 250 million working children between ages five and fourteen in developing countries, and around 120 million of them work full-time. Africa has the highest incidence of child workers as a percentage of the labour force, followed by Asia and Latin America. However, in absolute figures, Asia claims the highest number of child workers. In the United States, an estimated 5.5 million youths between ages twelve and seventeen work. This does not include the large number of children under the age of twelve who are employed illegally.

Children are the future of the society and the nation and it is really disheartening that they are being exploited by the society itself.

Position of India:
With official estimates of 12.6 million children in hazardous occupations, India has the highest number of labourers in the world less than 14 years of age. Although the Constitution of India guarantees free and compulsory education to children between the age of 6 to 14 and prohibits employment of children younger than 14 in any hazardous environment, child labour is present in almost all sectors of the Indian economy, for example, in 'beedi' manufacture, silk manufacture, domestic labor, construction, carpet making industry, brick kilns, etc.

Let me state an example which exemplifies the state of child labour in our country:
In November 2005, an Indian NGO activist Junned Khan, with the help of the Labour Department and NGO Pratham, mounted the country's biggest ever raid for child labour rescue in the Eastern part of New Delhi, the capital of India. The process resulted in rescue of 480 children from over 100 illegal factories operating in the crowded slum area of Seelumpur. For next few weeks, government, media and NGOs were in a frenzy over the exuberant numbers of young boys, as young as 5-6 year olds, released from bondage. This rescue operation opened the eyes of the world to the menace of child labour operating right under the nose of the largest democracy in the whole world.

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