Child labor is something where children of younger age start to earn in order to support their family. In other words, child labor is any kind of work children are made to do that harms or exploits them physically, mentally or morally. According to the World Labor Report, the child labor is considered as ‘forced labor’ because children are rarely in a position to give free consent to any activities performed by them as most aspect of their lives are determined by adults.
Child labor is a curse to our society and a crime against humanity. Children work when they are supposed to play or go to school. By making them work in this tender age we are not only destroying their future, but also playing with the destiny of the country. “The child is the father of man.” This famous line quoted by William Wordsworth specifies the importance of the child for the development of building a healthy nation and society. Childhood is the most innocent stage in human life. A child normally has to enjoy its childhood days with its parents, teachers, friends etc. It is that stage of life where fine and long lasting impressions gather in child’s mind. However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled by the ever-growing menace of child labor.
In this modern world, child labor still remains a serious problem in many parts of the world. Today, throughout the world, around 215 million children are child labors. The sad thing is that they work under hazardous circumstances. More than half of them are exposed to the worst form of child labor such as work in harmful environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labor, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.
Child labor is a major problem in India. It is a great challenge that the country is facing. India accounts for the second highest number of child labors after Africa. In a country like India where over 40 percent of the population is living in conditions of extreme poverty, child labor is a complex issue. However, acute poverty is the main cause for child labor throughout the world, but everybody – society. Parents, government, individual, low wages, unemployment, poor standard of living, deep social prejudices and backwardness are directly responsible for child labor in India.
In Indian, despite, there is no enactment which genuinely contributed for eradication of child labor. The constitution in article – 25 states that no child below 14 years will be employed in any factories or mines or engaged in any hazardous occupation that is harmful for them. But, till now it is not remarked anywhere of ablution or elimination of child labor. Admitting that the Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986 have put forward some average working conditions for children who work in hazardous environment, yet the word hazardous has not been specified clearly anywhere in the constitution, or in any act asserted on child labor. Thus, the clarification of the term ‘hazardous’ is unclear and inadequate especially in the case of child labor.
Child labor can be factory work, mining, or quarrying, agriculture, helping in parents’ business, having one’s own small business, or doing odd jobs. Children work as waiters in restaurants and sometimes as tourist’s guides. Other children are forced to do draggy and uninteresting jobs such as polishing shoes of rich people or accumulating boxes. However, instead of working in factories and sweatshops, most child labor occurs in the informal sector, children are forced to sell products on the streets, work in agriculture fields or hidden away in houses- far from the reach of official labor inspectors and from media inspection.
There are many types of child labor but bonded child labor or slave labor is one of the worst types of labor for children. It is estimated that approximately 10 million bonded children laborers are working as domestic servants in India. Apart from this there are nearly 55 million bonded child laborers who are employed across several other industries. A recent International Labor Organization (ILO) report says that in India there are about 80 percent of child laborers who are hired in the agriculture sector. Generally, the children are sold to the rich moneylenders to whom borrowed money cannot be returned. In addition to this ‘Street children’ is another type of child labor where children work on the street as beggars, flower sellers, etc. Sometimes children are not being provided with food for long so that people feel sorry for them and give alms. The statistical information regarding child labor cannot be taken to be precise, as there are areas where no accounting has been done.
Child labor is in fact, a source of income for poor families. Poor parents give birth to children thinking they would earn more money. The children either increase their parent’s income or are the only wage earners in the family. Because of poverty families are forced to send their children into labor, the employers find it a source of cheap and trouble free labor. Children can be beaten and tormented into doing dirty jobs. Innocent children are employed by industries and individuals who put them to work under exhausting environments. They are made to work for long hours in dangerous factory units and sometimes made to carry load even heavier than their own body weight.
Millions of children are involved in work that is unacceptable for children, including the sale and trafficking of children into debt bondage, serfdom, and forced labor. It includes the forced employment of children for armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation and illicit activities such as producing and trafficking drugs.
This is the story of child labor in all the poor developing and underdeveloped countries of world including India. Even after sixty-five years of independence India has not been able to give any liberation to the poor. Yet withdrawal of child labor is cureless task in the current socio-economic scenario, the Indian government is dedicated to the task of confirming that all the children should be literate and that no child remains illiterate, hungry and without medical care. When this ideal will be achieved is a million dollar question.
Child labor is, no doubt an evil that should be done away with at the earliest. The prevalence of child labor rebound and effects adversely on society that it is not able to stop this evil. But in a society where many households have to go through the discomfort of starvation if the children are withdrawn from work, beggars can’t be chooser. Unfortunately these families have to send their children to work, knowing that the future of the child will be ruined but they have to, as that is the only way open for them to survive in this world. Therefore unless the socio economic status of the poor families is improved, India has to live with child labor.
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