Child Labour And Child Exploitation
Child labour is a curse that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
A sizeable number of growing children of poor socioeconomic class especially in rural areas are known to be inducted as child labour. Studies have shown that labour at very young ages can have dire consequences on the child's development, both physical and mental. Child labourers always had lower growth and health status compared to their non-working counterparts, besides exposure to occupational hazards at a very young stage in their lives.
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child and our own Constitution has laid down that childhood and youth should be protected against exploitation. A convention established 15 as minimum work age for most sectors while permitting light work from age 13, provided that such work was unlikely to harm child's health, morals and safety or prejudice his school attendance.
Surveys by International Labour Organization in 1990 found that over 79 million children under the age of 15 years were obliged to work. According to The World Counts website 2020, more than 200 million children today globally are child labourers, out of those, 73 million of these children are below 10 years old. An estimated 120 million are engaged in hazardous work. In some cases, children as young as 5 years have been reported to be in paid employment. Africa and Asia dominate the data on child labour. The scenario has not changed much to the present time.
Forced child labour is present in all regions and kinds of economy. For the most part, there is neither official data on the incidence of forced labour nor a widespread awareness among society at large that forced labour is a problem.
Child Labour in Domestic Service
Children in domestic service are the most invisible child labourers. Their work is performed within individual homes, removed from public scrutiny and their conditions of life and labour are entirely dependent on the whims of their employers. The number of children involved in domestic service around the world is unquantifiable because of the hidden nature of the work, but it certainly runs into millions. Many of these children are girls, and in many countries, domestic service is seen as the only avenue of employment for a young girl, though in some places, such as Nepal and South Africa, boys are more likely to be domestic workers than girls Children exploited in domestic service are generally paid little or nothing over and above food and lodging. In addition, children in domestic service are especially susceptible to physical and psychological harm. Many are forced to undertake tasks that are completely inappropriate for their age and physical strength. Another form of forced labour is debt bondage, whatever the origin of the debt, it leaves children under complete control of a money lender in a state little distinguishable from slavery.
India fosters the largest number of child labour in the world. Child labour contributes about 20 per cent of India's GNP. Child workers work for 12 hours at an average every day. Jammu and Kashmir have the highest percentage of child labour, where children are mainly engaged in the carpet weaving industry. The other fields where child labour is used is in agriculture, planting, mining, building, construction, garbage picking, cashew decoding and processing, cloth printing, dyeing and weaving.
Child labour is rooted in poverty, unemployment and lack of education. A great deal of effort is needed to eliminate these basic causes. It is felted that instead of proliferating the laws relating to children, all the statuary provisions of various Acts relating to children should be grouped in one comprehensive code of children. It is not feasible to abolish child labour entirely in the present context, but it is expedient to protect such children against abuse, exploitation and health hazards, and regulate the conditions of work in occupations where child labour is permitted.
Orphaned children are much more vulnerable to protection violations. The death of a parent, in situations where no adequate alternative care systems are in place, opens up a protection gap. Children living on their own are at much greater risk of abuse and exploitation. Assessments by the International Labour Organization have found that orphaned children are much more likely than non-orphans to be working in commercial agriculture, as street vendors, in domestic service and in the sex trade.
Child Trafficking is the unconditional worst form of child labour and exploitation. Trafficking of children takes many different forms. Some children are forcibly abducted, others are tricked and still, others opt to let themselves be trafficked by the promise of earnings, but not suspecting the level of exploitation they will suffer at the other end of the recruiting chain. Trafficking always involves a journey whether within the country or across the international border. The relocation takes children away from their families, communities and support network, leaving them isolated and utterly vulnerable to exploitation. Collection data about these children is very difficult. It is estimated that trafficking affects about 1.2 million children each year.
Elements of Child Protective Environment
Elements of Protective Environment for Children; 1. Strengthening the capacity of families and communities to care and protect children. 2.Government commitment to child protection by providing budgetary support and social welfare policies targetted at the most excluded and invisible children. 3.Ratification and implementation of legislation both National and International, concerning Children's rights and protection. 4.Prosecution of perpetrators crimes children and avoidance of criminalizing child victims. 5. An open discussion by civil society and media about attitudes, prejudices, beliefs and practices that facilitate or lead to abuses. 6.Availability of basic social services to all children without discrimination. 7.Monitoring, transparent reporting and oversight of abuses and exploitation. The key to build pra protective environment is the responsibility of members of the society ensuring that children are not exploited. While families and the State have the primary responsibility for protecting children ongoing. To recover, the sustained efforts of individuals and organizations at all levels are essential to break patterns of abuse.
World Day Against Child Labour
Every year, the international community commemorates the World Day against Child Labour on June 12. This year, as the world confronts an unprecedented pandemic, children face an increased risk of child labour, child marriages and other forms of exploitation. The COVID 19 public health emergency has disrupted the right to education for children across the world. Now it is our moral duty to spread awareness about the adverse mental and physical torture faced by children forced into child labour.