Child Labour: A Turpitude in Child’s Life

Child labour is an international concern which not only spoils the future of those kids but brings them to the door of adversity and despair. A child at his tender age should be endowed with love, care and a fortuity to learn. Instead of training these young minds to fill their pockets they should be given an opportunity to shape their naïve minds with the tool of education. India has been a centre of child labour for decades. The world has been facing the problem of child labour since centuries and after the era of industrialization, there was a rapid increase in the exploitation of child rights.

Indian law accommodates multi-fold principles for curing this poison of society. Despite innumerable legislations and mandates, child labour still seems like an exuberant. One in every eleven children in India is working, and the concentrated states in India for child labour are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. 80% of working children are mainly based in rural areas and three out of four are working in the field of agriculture.

Reasons for this forced work is not just the greed of parents to earn money for their children. There are sour realities behind, which compel small kids to leave their priceless childhood for the sake of earning few meals for themselves and their families. Most children suffer from this anguish due to the family indebtedness or lack of livelihood options or poverty.  The increased sympathy towards child workers tends to accelerate the pace of child trafficking for trafficked work. Children are an easy prey of this copious because the payment made to a child is much lower than the payment made to an adult for the same work.

Child labour is not consistent and steady. It changes with the change in society. Due to rapid change in legislation and growth of laws, child labour has become more of a hidden crime. Children are more often found working in households rather than seen working in factories and industries. There is no documentation or registration done for these kids as the workers of any industry due to the presence of strict laws. But child labour in unregistered format does not put an end to it.

There is not just one legislation, there are dozens of laws which keep an eye on child labour in India.  The related and relevant legislations are; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, National Policy on Child Labour; Juvenile Justice Act; The Right to Education, etc. UNICEF has been working for a long time against child labour by spreading the message and strengthening child protection systems.

Child labour in India has become more gender-specific, girls are more into domestic work while boys are more seen to be employed in factories and as a wage labour. The working hour and the workload duration increases as children grow older. Child labour is facing a huge problem due to its complexity and unawareness of people. Children in India are often found as rag pickers, newspaper hawkers, selling gloomy stuff at the roadside and on signals, working as a helper in restaurants and food corners; for which they are paid a meagre sum of money.

It isn’t always the fact that those children choose to work or they are forced into it and they imperiously do it. Kids at this delicate age do not realize the importance of education and knowledge. They should be dispensed with just and a decent avenue towards education. Adults and child’s caregiver should understand that those little hands are not meant to work, those tiny eyes are full of dreams and imagination, they get paid at the cost of their future and the tears they shed. Kids are not driven to this adversity because of fate and poverty, unawareness is the reason for it.

Talking to a cleaner Awanti, who lives in the slums near Gwalior City Centre, her 9-year daughter Riddhi accompanies her to her workplace. She says her son goes to school, which is why she cannot afford to send her daughter to school. The lack of understanding about family planning and unawareness about the impact of lack of education leads to this situation. Unknowingly, Awanti is pushing her daughter in the zone of education deprives.

Curtailing child labour is not just the duty of government but is a moral responsibility of every citizen of this country and of the globe. Awareness and knowledge is the only key which can stop this evil from expanding its vicinity, laws and regulations are needed when morality is harmed. If masses understand the need to protect a child’s tomorrow then prerequisite of laws is not needed.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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YOGRICHA VERMA

Yogricha Verma, a fourth-year law student at Amity Law School, Amity University Madhya Pradesh, is also a student of Company Secretary under ICSI. She is a student member of Indian National Bar Association (INBA) and Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). Her native is Bhopal, India. She is also a freelancer and an artist and loves to do social works.

Wake up! Our future is bleak!

If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders – George Carlin

There are a lot unaccounted number of people in the world who are homeless, and they range from different ages to different sex. But, let’s focus on one segment of such homeless people – Children. In other words, the Street Children.

According to a study in the early 2000s by The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a United Nations programme launched for the protection of the rights of the children, it was estimated that there are over 100 million street children in the world[1], with 40 million in Latin America and 18 million in India[2]. Of course, now the numbers must have increased, and it is not possible to get the accurate number of street children, however, it is believed that the number might be over 150 million in the world.

Such street children are subjected to many violations and exploitations, like sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, etc. To counter such atrocities, there have been many institutions set up and acts enacted both at the international as well as national level. So, why is the number of the street children increasing day by day even when there are so many institutions and acts, internationally and nationally? There may be many reasons for the continued deterioration of the street children, like the lack of Government support or due to social and economic conditions or for any other reason.

But, there’s one reason that not many have taken into account for the increasing number of street children, but, everyone knows that this is one the reasons and, i.e., the bystanders. How many of you have ever talked to or interacted with the street children? Not many, right? How many of you have glanced the other way when you see the condition of the street children while walking down the street? Haven’t you all?

Alright, not many of you might have ignored. You must have all stopped once or twice or thrice to give them a meal which you buy from a nearby stall or restaurant or to give them a nominal sum of money so that they can buy whatever they want. But, do you think that food you give will satisfy their hunger forever? How long do you think that money will last? One day? Two days? What after that meal is eaten? What after that money runs out? The street children will still be deprived of their basic necessities. They will continue to starve. Their rights will continue to be violated.

In such cases, they don’t need one-meal-a-day or money. What they need is care and protection till they can finally stand on their own. Because, when they run out of food or money, they will be desperate, and then, there are bound to be adverse actions on their part, which is, in turn, going to lead to the deterioration of the future of a country. After all these children are the future of our country and are going to be the ones who will be responsible for the continued existence of our country. But, if they end up walking down the wrong path, the future of our country will be bleak.

Now the question that arises is how do we help? Simple! Just pick up the phone call 1098[3] or 100[4]. And inform. We as citizens can ensure the future of our country only through participation, by being active and by being empathetic. It is when we ignore that we add more to the continued deterioration of the street children. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Remember folks, the problem of street children persists, but, we can counter this only when we are not mute bystanders can we ensure the future of our country.

[1] https://www.unicef.org/sowc06/profiles/street.php

[2] http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0904-homelessness.html

[3] Childline – Children’s helpline contact, India

[4] Police Helpline contact, India


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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VIDHYA KUMARSWAMY

Vidhya Kumarswamy is a Law student pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), has a craving for knowledge and passionate about writing just as she’s a passionate foodie. Also, she’s a blogger and an Otaku.

Child Labour – A bane!

Throughout our life, we may face multiple situations which most of the time require our effort to get solved. Have you ever asked yourself what happens when we cannot provide the effort which it is required to get things done?

There exist institutions and concrete laws which can provide a helping hand in cases where you cannot go through the difficulties and challenges. More to the point, when it comes to children, the situation becomes even more complicated and it needs to be more specific about the laws and policies that each country puts.

Even if there exist laws and concrete policies about children rights and their welfare, it tends to not always get implemented, for instance, the example of Albanian children facing increasing inequality, social exclusion and discrimination, violence, abuse, domestic violence, and lack of access to quality services (health and education).

Albania has ratified the United Nations conventions and protocols, which emphasize that children enjoy full rights and need special attention as well as protection from the family as well as the state institutions. Increasing the role of local government units in assessing the needs of children in relation to the realization of their rights, and poverty alleviation by reforming the system of social services for children, and harmonizing policies on children’s rights through the functioning of mechanisms for the protection of children’s rights at central and local level, they can make the implementation of multiple laws and policies effective.

The worst forms of child labor have been systematically integrated into the main pillars of government policies such as the National Strategy for Development and Integration, the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) , and other sectoral strategies such as the National Strategy for Children, the National Strategy for Service Development Social Strategy, National Strategy on Employment and Vocational Training, National Strategy on Child Trafficking, etc. The areas of intervention are child survival, child protection, child development, Involvement and participation of children.

Over the years, policymakers have been busy with addressing the phenomenon of child labor by ratifying international conventions and instruments, such as: UN Convention “On the Rights of the Child”, February 1992; ILO Convention, No.138 “On Minimum Age of Work”, February 1998; ILO Convention, No.182, “On the Heaviest Forms of Child Labor”, August 2001; UN Convention “Against Organized Crime “, October 2002; UN Protocol “On the Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, August 2002; etc.

Rays of hope, however, are already on the horizon. Countries are taking actions to bring down the statistics of child labor, the topic has been gathering increasing attention from the authorities, and societies are getting more informed about the negative effects of child labor and bad working conditions.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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ANXHELA BRUCI

Anxhela Bruçi is a young writer, she has published two books related to social issues. She has finished her Bachelor studies for Administration and Social Policies. She aims to follow a Master of Science for Social Services in Criminal Justice. She aspires to advocate for human rights and to motivate young people to contribute for a better and a safer society.

‘The Child Act’ – Towards a better India

This article has been written by Sarvesh P. Giri. Sarvesh is a Bachelor’s of Engg in Electronics and Telecommunication, 2015 batch from Mumbai University and pursuing LL.B. from Gopaldas Jhamatmal Advani Law College, Mumbai.

“I am the child.

All the world waits for my coming. All the earth watches with interest to see what I shall become. Civilization hangs in the balance, For what I am, the world of tomorrow will be. I am the child.

You hold in your hand my destiny. You determine, largely, whether I shall succeed or fail, Give me, I pray you, these things that make for happiness. Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world”.

HANSARIA (Supreme Court of India)

M.C. Mehta V/s State of Tamil Nadu

 

Today, India has been the largest growing country in the world in an attempt to maintain pace with the rest of the world not only in terms of economy but also in other respects. In this attempt what remained neglected were the “Children”. The children generally referred to as “THE FUTURE OF INDIA” by eminent personalities and various public figures are the most unprotected ones at present era.

This issue needed a serious approach and if the same was not tendered then the future of global India would definitely be eclipsed by this malice. Today when we have stepped into the 21st century and that we are speaking about future of India modelled in the concept of “DIGITAL INDIA, what we actually ignore is the future of India which needs to be modelled by virtue of great efforts and attendance.

India has been the founder Member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) where the ILO has passed Convention 138 and Convention 182. Convention 138 states that no children can be engaged into work who has not completed compulsory schooling and Convention 182 prohibits child labour to children below age of 18 years in worst conditions.

Therefore the Government of India came up with an explicit statutei.e. THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT, 1986, which would be an attempt to put a halt to this malice and to protect the children as it was now the time for imposition in order to get children to schools and to protect their adolescents.

NEED FOR THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT, 1986:

Children are the most vulnerable members of this society and they are also the ones who need utmost care and assistance. This problem of child labour is the most creeping one in the developing country like India where poverty and illiteracy is damaging the backbone of the country and of which the child labour is the consequence.The children in the olden period assisted their parents in their business and as such there was no concept of “child labour” in those days but, now this has been misused as a money making policy either by parents or by various establishments such as factories, industries, etc, in advancement of either beneficiaries or money.

Hence in order to protect and to safeguard the valuable rights and interest of the children in India the Hon’ble Government of India came up with an essential statute which mandated the protection of fundamental rights of the children i.e. right to healthy and dignified life, under Article 21 of Indian Constitution.

In consonance of this, the Government of India articulated a statute namely THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT, 1986, in order to further satisfy the fundamental principles laid down under Article 15(3) and 39(f) of the Indian Constitution for protection of children rights which would consequently safeguard the future of the India and the same Act would be referred hereinafter as “THE PRINCIPAL ACT” for the sake of brevity.

This statute was apt and much needed at the time of its enforcement as it was in consideration of the scenario that existed at that time and it was also upheld in the interest of justice with a focus on the constructive role of the state in respect of children as was expressed implicitly in the case of M.C. Mehta V/S State of Tamil Nadu, whereby the children were prohibited from being employed in the matches factories but they were allowed to assist in packing in areas not exposed to accident.

M.C. Mehta V/S State of Tamil Nadu:

  • Famously referred to as THE CHILD LABOUR ABOLITION CASE.
  • In this leading case of child labour abolition, the PIL Protagonist Mr. M.C. Mehta had filed a public interest litigation by virtue of Art. 32 of Constitution of India in order to get the suffering of children employed in Sivakasi Cracker Factories and the same was a blatant violation of Article 24 of Constitution of India, thereby seeking appropriate directions from the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to curb this menace of child labour.
  • Upon perusal of all the facts and figures laid forth by M.C. Mehta and the aforesaid Sivakasi Cracker factory, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India issued directions with an intention and motive to curb child labour and to protect the right and interest of the children in pursuance of an attempt to avoid exploitation of children.

NEED FOR AMENDMENT OF THE PRINCIPAL ACT:

The Principal Act was enacted with an intention and motive to have a pragmatic approach to the menace crawling within the vicinity of the country and making it hallow in all respects be it a socio-economically or commercially, but the aforesaid principal Act was not sufficient in order to achieve the social motive as it was only restrained to children i.e. any person or individual who has not completed 14th year of age. The Principal Act did not lay a mandate for prohibiting employment of youths or youngsters possessing great zeal and enthusiasm within them to achieve the impossible goal and to execute any task with perfection.

The primary and secondary moto of the Principal Act was to protect the fundamental right of the children i.e. Right to Education, as set out under Article 21A of Indian Constitution but, however, the Principal Act was in partial violation of the same as the main essence of the Article 21A was the right to education with an intention and a motive to enhance the growth of children, both mentally and physically.

 

The people of various establishments and of various areas were employing children of age of 14 and above in employment which if not stopped would lead to the end of the race.

Giving a pragmatic and an observant approach to this, at the age of 14 a child has just completed his schooling and with the evolvement of society and advancement of generation a merely schooling is insufficient to make a living hence it was an alarm calling for amendment of Principal Act.

We needed to evidence growth within the country and for which it was the utmost need to get maximum number of children and youngsters to schools and colleges in order to instil within them the foundation of growth as it is a well settled thought that education is the path to advancement.

THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2016- “THE CHILD ACT”:

In pursuance of the above loophole in the Principal Act, the necessary proposal was laid down for amendment where any person or individual of the age of 6-14 years was addressed as “children” and any person or individual of age of 14-18 years was addressed as “adolescent” as defined in the amendment Actunder section 2(ii) and 2(i) respectively of the amendment Act. This amendment Act widened the scope of the Principal Act.

As per the report of the Standing Committee, it was the vision to amend the Principal Act in order to ensure maximum enrolment of children and adolescents in schools and educational institutes which is in line with Convention 138 of ILO and all this was in view of RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT, 2009.

This Act was need of the hour as the Principal Act restrained only to children who have completed the age of their 14 years but now with the advancement of the society and education norms a child of 14 years of age would have no stand.

The question into the minds of the great policy makers was about the efficiency of the Principal Act and hence they were of the opinion to widen the scope and regulations of the statute. Upon observant approach the question into the minds of the great policy makers was to include the teenagers, youngsters and youth of nation into the statute by virtue of an amendment.

Hence, the amendment Act was introduced which widened its scope thereby not only counting children into it but also adolescent of the age of 14 – 18 years into it in an attempt to secure their stand in the world stage.

IS THIS AMENDMENT SUFFICIENT TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF FUTURE NATION BUILDERS?

Upon observing and being conversant with the abovementioned loopholes in the Principal Act, the great policy makers of nation came up with the amendment but, the question that still prevailed was over the efficiency of the Child Act.

Upon studying the Child Act, it has certain loopholes which were pretty trivial and that were also the ones which needed utmost care as they were sensitive in nature. The loopholes in the Child Act were as follows:

  • Vague Expressions: Considering the LONG TITLE of the said Child Act, which mentions the purpose of this Act i.e. no children can be engaged in any occupation and that no adolescent in any hazardous occupation. As per this Act, the expression “any occupation” and “hazardous occupation” have different meaning. Theexpression “all occupation” is pretty vague as there is every certainty that the children can be employed in hazardous occupation which will damage their health and vigour and that the expression is not clear in respect of employment where children can be engaged.The establishments can hire children of age of 14 and engage them into a factory such as a fire factory, and that the establishments would have to shell out less money to pay the children than what they might pay to an adolescent.

  • Lack of Scrutinizing Mechanism: The section 3(2) (a) which lays down provision which is a relaxation rewarded to families by allowing them to employ children to assist in the family business but now the question was a check mechanism which went undebated by the mind bogglers. This amendment to the section did not have any explicit or an implicit provision governing the scrutinizing mechanism unto whether the children helping their parents in their daily chores are not subjected to child labour on regular basis i.e. are the children making their presence in the school the next day? Hence, this section lacked on checking mechanism.

  • Missing Part or Expression: Secondly his section lacks onto the nature of jobs which a child can undertake in pursuance of assisting his family in family business. This section can easily be misused, misinterpreted and act as a great tool for various employees in establishment to employ children in their factories and industries, etc. As for instance, if a person is a labour doing heavy jobs at a construction site and if he engages his child for assistance than that is no less than a child labour whereas if a person sells potatoes in a local super market and if he wishes to engage a child for his assistance, than it would be considered as an assistance.

  • Ignorance of Mental Growth& Environment at Workplace: The amendment Act under Section 3(2)(b) includes the provision of certain employments within which the children can be employed such as artist in an audio visual industry including the advertisements, films, etc. but what went unnoticed is the mental growth of a child or an adolescent. At this tender age they need care as this is the time they will mould themselves as to what they will be in future. As such this provision does not even consider the work environment to be mandatorily be created to enable a child work without any instance of exploitation.

  • Specific Undertaking In Respect of Jobs To Be Undertaken by Children: Section 3(2) (b) had also another loop hole as it did not consider the nature of jobs to be undertaken by children in audio- visual industry. The mention of words such as “artist” as per this child Act is a very broad term under this section. The expression “other activity as may be prescribed related to the entertainment or sports activity” can be used as a tool in defence by accused of child labour. It does not clearly state whether jobs arduous in nature can be undertaken by children or not. Explaining this point with an instance, if suppose a child is employed in a sport related industry where he is asked to carry heavy articles from one place to another place within the vicinity of the industry and that too carrying of the article is not within the capacity of the child, would it not amount to child labour?

  • Missing Essential Expressions: The Child Act has inclusion of Section 3A whereby adolescent were not employed in hazardous jobs as setout in the schedule. Upon perusal of the schedule of the Child Act, working in mines, inflammable substances or explosives and hazardous process (as explained under Factories Act, 1948) is considered as hazardous but what is gone unnoticed is inclusion of labour jobs. Upon understanding the nature of jobs being carried out by labour, it is evident that it should also be included into the schedule or else people suffering from poverty would send their children to construction sites to work and that they would escape the clutches of law on grounds of labour jobs not included into hazardous occupations.

  • MISSING OF “CHILDREN”:The trifle loophole in section 3A was the mere mention of word “adolescent”. Today, with a crystal clear business vision the employers would employee children (as defined under this Child Act) merely on two grounds i.e. firstly being that no mentionof children in law in this section prohibiting the engagement of children in hazardous occupation and secondly that an employer of an establishment will have to pay less to a child than what is paid to an adolescent.

MERITS OF THE CHILD ACT:

The menace of child labour is primarily because of two reasons i.e. poverty and illiteracy. Passing a statute in the Parliament needed great attention to this area also or else the daily cup of tea in the morning and a newspaper in hand would be covered with suicide headlines because that is the ultimate resort that a family, suffering from poverty, adopts.

This Child Act was a great help as it considers all the angles and triangles. It safeguarded the rights and interest of a child and adolescent by closing all the backdoors that one had in the Principal Act. This Act is in great pursuance of the Constitution of India and also the Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act,2009, in pursuance of recommendations by the Standing Committee in 2013-14 under Paragraph 3 of Article 2 of Convention 138 of ILO, as it also mandated punishment of activities that harmed the education of a child or adolescent.

This Act did consider the root cause and had provision in it to protect children and also to enable easy and soothing flow of economy in the house by mandating provision for engagement of children in family business.

SUGGESTION & RECCOMENDATIONS:

The Child Act was a great help to the Indians as it was in consonance with present scenario but certain trifle things went unnoticed in the Child Act. This Child Act definitely is a boon as it includes adolescent also within its purview but now the question is about check mechanism. This Child Act allows children assisting their parents in the family business but what is not considered is the scrutinization of the same. One needs to consider whether the children engaged in family business are not subjected to child labour in pursuance of assistance and that they are made present to schools and institutions on following days. This goal of scrutinization can be achieved by registration method. The government can mandate a provision of appointing local bodies who will maintain a register containing detailed information of each person engaging their children in their business as an assistant and keep a check on the work hours, nature of job undertaken by the children and whether children are returning back to schools the next day and keep a watch on whether are they employed to such an extent that it is effecting their studies.

This suggestion is in pursuance of the guidelines set by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of M.C. Mehta V/S State of Tamil Nadu in which the Court suggested to set up National Commission to come up with schemes to abolish child labour in a phased manner.

The recommendations of the court in this case also suggested a time limit to allow work for only 6 hours or so. Hence, in accordance to this the Government of India must take mandatory steps in square of the judgement passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in this case.

Secondly, the great framers of this Act must consider certain nature of jobs such as labour and masonry within the schedule of the Act as this loophole can be easily misinterpreted and misused by the people on the grounds of their act being in pursuance of the law mandated. The child can assist his family in their business but inclusion of labour and masonry or any arduous job in the schedule will provide a stringent hold to the section in the Child Act. During the discussion of the bill i.e.THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016, our Hon’ble Labour Minister cited his days when he assisted his family in selling potatoes but at that time there was no such concept of child labour and as such the nature of job is not arduous in nature hence it can be considered as assistance. But now if a child is assisting his family in a masonry work or at a construction site, lifting heavy objects beyond his capacity and above his strength it would definitely lead to child labour.

Finally, this Child Act allows children to be engaged in areas related to audio- visual, entertainment, films, etc. But now one needs to consider the environment at workplace. Just mere giving a relaxation to children to engage in these industries would not serve the purpose. One needs to mandate certain guideline in respect of work environment. If a child is made to play a protagonist in one of the upcoming films and he is simultaneously exposed to scoldings, thrashes and yellings for not performing as per the expectation of the direction team. Would it not hamper the mental growth of the child?

CONCLUSION:

Upon perusing the Principal Act and the Child Act, it is crystal clear that the intention and the motive is to protect children rights. The child labour is never intentional or wilful but is always a compulsion in a developing country like India. Hence in this scenario it was mandatory to have a Statute in order to get children onto right path and to shape their future which consequentially would shape the future of India. Today we have the government talk about big words such as “MAKE IN INDIA”, “DIGITAL INDIA”, etc. but what they are forgetting is that they are targeting the canopy of the tree and not the roots of the tree. They are attempting to strengthen the tree but, their approach is in wrong direction and that it needs to be taken onto right one.

This Child Act passed by the Parliament though has great beneficial points but what is not considered is the loopholes that any person or an organization accused of child labour can use as a defence to its advantage and escape from the clutches of law.

Hence, we must give a deeper thought to this serious and sensitive issue if we all wish to move in the forward direction into light.

***

The November book bucket

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