Child labor refers to the employment of a child in any work. This deprives the children of their childhood. It is physically, socially, mentally harmful to children. The education of children is drastically affected by child labor. Currently, the number of child labor has increased by 8.4 million in the last 4 years. There is a myth that most child laborers are orphans. But the truth is that only 3 out of 1000 are orphans. According to the International Labour Organization, currently, more than 168 million people between 5 and 14 are working. In India, according to the data collected from census 2011, it is estimated that there are about 10.1 million child laborers.
CAUSES OF CHILD LABOUR
PRIMARY CAUSES: The International Labour Organization suggests that poverty is the simplest reason behind child labor. For many poor families, the children have to work to fulfill their basic needs. Income from this child may be low but it contributes between 25 to 40% of the household income.
CULTURAL CAUSES: In European history, certain cultural beliefs have rationalized child labor and therefore encouraged child labor. Some people think that doing work is good for character building and skill development of children. In many cultures, children have to take over their parent’s businesses. Also, in many cultures, the education of girls is valued. They think that there is no need for educating the girl children. And these girls are pushed into child labor such as doing household services.
MACROECONOMIC CAUSES: The growth of poverty and unavailability of good schools lies on the supply side of child labor. The growth of low paying informal economy rather than the higher paying formal economy is the cause for the demand side of child labor. Other scholars suggest that the size of the informal economy, inflexible labor market, and lack of modern manufacturing techniques are some of the macroeconomic causes for child labor.
SOME ACTS THAT PROHIBITS THE CHILD LABOUR:
- The Factories Act of 1984: This act prohibits the working of children below the age of 14 years in any factories. The law also includes rules that how long pre-adults aged 15 to 18 years to be employed in any factory.
- The Mines Act of 1952: This act prohibits children under 18 years working in the mine.
- The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986: This law prohibits the working of children (under 14 years) in hazardous places listed by the law.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law states that anyone who employs children in hazardous places will be punishable with prison term.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009: The law provides mandatory education to all children aged between 6 to 14 years. This law also states that 25% of seats in every primary school must be allocated to children from disadvantaged groups and physically challenged children.
- In addition to this, many Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) like Bachpan Bachao Andolan, CARE India, Child Rights, and You, RIDE India are working to eradicate child labor in India.
Despite these laws and prohibition acts in India, there are still millions of children are employed in homes, roadside restaurants, and factories across the country. Every year June 12 is observed as the anti-child labor day. As the citizens of India, we all should be united to eradicate child labor in our country. Donate funds to the NGOs and make awareness programs in rural areas. Start some small campaigns against child labor. Child labor can be eradicated if government performs effectively with public support.