Every child is innocent, pure-hearted and full of life. A child is associated with his or her childhood; which is the most beautiful phase of a child's life. It is the time for play, study and being oneself. A section of children get to enjoy their childhood and enjoy a family environment, school life, studying, playing, making friends and pursuing their heart's desire. Be it the urban or rural sector, childhood is what makes a child into a true person. In the rural areas children are seen to help their parents in their work and have their share of fun as well. But, are all children fortunate enough to have a happy and fun filled childhood? It is a question that we should ask ourselves and become aware of a harsh reality - Child Labour!
Child labour exists in several forms across the state and country. We see so many children who are deprived of their childhood and do not get the opportunity to enjoy life as children should do. They do not play, study or go to school. They are striving hard to earn their living by working in roadside stalls, shops, markets, railway platforms, restaurants, dhabas and in several households as domestic helps. Children are seen doing odd jobs such as polishing shoes, washing dishes and utensils, cars, buses, auto rickshaws and taxis. They are not paid well and are seen as a cheap source of labour that makes them vulnerable to exploitation by the masses. These children are seen to toil beyond working hours and are seen slogging their lives out for a meal or for a few pennies to support their families who are below the poverty line. In reality, these children should be in schools and doing all the things that normal children do.
In context to the law of the land, child labour is a crime and whoever encourages it should be punished severely, so that innocent children aren't deprived of their childhood. Every child has a right to education as per the laws of the state and country; and it is time that we begin implementing the same effectively to get rid of this menace that is destroying the economy and future growth of the country. The country and state should ensure that child labour is banned and every child has secure and happy childhood. In our own small way, we should also not encourage child labour in our homes and neighbourhood and discourage those who think of employing children as domestic helps or making them do all kinds of odd jobs.
In the words of William Shakespeare - 'Children are the fathers of men'. If this holds true, then we should ensure every child's childhood. We should work for a brighter future and a progressive Indian society. Steps should be taken to educate and help these children who are victims of child labour and securing their future, instead of depriving them of their childhood. There are some schools, institutions and organizations who have taken up the task of educating street children and getting them to enjoy their childhood like any normal child. After all they are also Indian citizens of the Republic of India, whose constitution is for the people, of the people and by the people.
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Child labour means that children are forced to work like adults and take part in an economic activity. According to the ILO International Labour Organization this is applied to people up to age fifteen, or seventeen in case of dangerous work. Even though only about a fourth of the ILO members have ratified the respective convention, this age limit is generally accepted.
Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.
Child labour is fundamentally different from casual work done by children, like guarding other children, or helping here and there. Child labour is forbidden in most countries. These days we see many minor boys and girls working in tea stalls, restaurants, hotels and other small shops. Some work in huge factories like brick factories. This is caused due to child labour, and the main reason why child labour occurs is poverty.
There are two kinds of work that minors can do:
- Some work they do is acceptable, as it is only light, or easy to do. Children can also do it while they are well-integrated into the family. This kind of work can be done in addition to an education the children are getting.
- The other kind of work is difficult to do, or it is physically exhausting. It may be dangerous, the children may be required to work for long hours and in humiliating clothing.
In general the second kind of work is usually labelled child labour. Estimates are that up to 350 million children are affected by child labour, eight million of these are affected by one of the worst forms of child labour: they are child soldiers, they are forced into prostitution, they are used for child pornography, they are child slaves, debt bondage or affected by human trafficking.
There are many prejudices against child labor in the Western world: Very often such cases are known through scandals made by the mass media: In that manner, a working child is often seen as a slave, working in a sweat shop in a third world country, producing textiles, or as one of the street children in South America. The reality is different though: Such shops exist all over the world, also in countries like the United States or Italy. The fact that child labour is involved is often hidden: More than three quarters of this work is done in the sector of agriculture, or it has to do with activities done at home, in the context of the family. If child-slaves exist, they are only a minority. This form of work done by children also existed before industrialisation and globalisation, the two phenomena have made it more visible, at best.
References[change | change source]
Child working in a mine, early 19th century England.
Laws on child labour, the Factory Acts, were passed in Britain in the 19th century. Children younger than nine were not allowed to work, those aged 9–16 could work 16 hours per day: Cotton Mills Act. In 1856, the law permitted child labour past age 9, for 60 hours per week, night or day. In 1901, the child labour age was raised to 12.
- ↑Table 2.8, WDI 2005, The World Bank
- ↑Percentage of children aged 5–14 engaged in child labour
- ↑The life of the industrial worker in nineteenth-century England. Laura Del Col, West Virginia University.
- ↑The Factory and Workshop Act 1901
- ↑Basu K. 1999. Child labor: cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards. Journal of Economic Literature, 37, pp. 1083-1119.
- ↑Carol Bellamy, Executive Director (2011). "UNICEF State of the World's Children 1997". Oxford University Press for UNICEF. Retrieved 26 August 2013.