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Although we have, in theory, abolished human slavery, recognized women’s rights, and stopped child labor, we continue to enslave other species who, if we simply pay attention, show quite clearly that they experience parental love, pain, and the desire for freedom, just as we do.

Child labor as described by the International Labor Organisation is

1. Work that deprives children of their childhood,

2. Their potential and their dignity,

 3. And that is harmful to physical and mental development.

This implies that not all work performed by child is to be classified as child labor to be eliminated. Children participating  in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is actually something positive and progressive. Children helping their parents at home, assisting in family business or earning pocket money after school hours or during school holidays, all this actually contributes to their development making them independent to face life.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labor in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child laborers and what can be done to help them.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labor. Specifically, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls on the global community to: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.”

2019 Theme: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!

Children should not work in fields, but on dreams. Yet today, 152 million children are still in child labor. Although child labor occurs in almost every sector, seven out of every ten is in agriculture.

In 2019, the International Labor Organization celebrates 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The World Day against Child Labor looks back on progress achieved over a 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labor. Since its founding in 1919, the protection of children has been embedded in the ILO’s Constitution (Preamble).

In 1999, the ILO led the Worst Forms Convention, signed by 151 countries, which prohibits the worst forms of child labor such as: 

  • Debt Bondage
  • Child Trafficking
  • All forms of Slavery or Slavery-like practices
  • Forced Recruitment of Children in Armed Conflict
  • Prostitution
  • Production of Pornography
  • Drug Production and Trafficking
  • Any Hazardous Work

The Current State of Child Labor

Below are child labor statistics and facts that might come as a surprise to you derived from ‘The World Counts’

  • More than 200 million children today are child laborers. An estimated 120 million are engaged in hazardous work.
  • 73 million of these children are below 10 years old.
  • The highest number of child labourers is in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The number of children in armed conflicts has risen to 300,000 over the past decade.
  • Most children work on farms that produce consumer products such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber and other crops.
  • 20 million child workers are employed in factories that make garments, carpets, toys, matches and hand-rolled cigarettes.

Child Labor in India

Child labor statistics in India by UNICEF.

Recent study by Child Rights and You (CRY) has revealed some frightening figures regarding child labor.

According to the study, Uttar Pradesh with staggering 2,50,672 child laborers has topped the list.

UP is followed by Bihar with 1,28,087 children and Maharashtra where the number of children engaged in labor stands at 82,847.

There is a need for greater awareness to curb child Labor, hence here are certain child labor laws one should know:

  • According to The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986  “employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations identified in a list by the law is prohibited”
  • Children can only work after school hours or during holidays
  • Children are allowed to work in family owned secure sectors.
  •  According to The Mines Act of 1952 “employment of children below 18 years of age in a mine is prohibited” Mining being one of the most dangerous occupations, which in the past has led to many major accidents taking life of children is completely banned for them.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000: This law made it a crime, punishable with a prison term, for anyone to procure or employ a child in any hazardous employment or in bondage. This act provides punishment to those who act in contravention to the previous acts by employing children to work.

Also Read: GDP growth misinterpreted by 2.5% : Arvind Subramanian

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