The World Day Against Child Labour will be observed today (Wednesday, 12 June) to raise awareness about the plight of child labourers worldwide. Hundreds of children drop out of school every year to help their parents earn a livelihood. The more unfortunate ones are forced into child labour by organised crime rackets, while many others never get to see a school because of extreme poverty.
While eradication of societal evils and alleviation of poverty remains a top priority to address this problem, creating awareness against the issue and discouraging demand for child labour also goes a long way.
In line with this goal, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) introduced World Day against Child Labour to be observed on 12 June every year, starting 2002. This year also marks 20 years since the adoption of the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).
This year’s theme is 'Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams'.
ILO defines child labour as "work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development".
However, the ILO says that all work is not considered child labour. Activities that contribute to the positive development of children like doing their share of household chores or earning pocket money in the summer are not to be targeted for elimination.
The ILO specifies a number of conditions that make the task child labour. If the job:
- is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children;
- interferes with their schooling;
- deprives them of the opportunity to attend school;
- obliges them to leave school prematurely;
- requires them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
In 2015, the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 urges the citizens of the world to "Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms."
Children are the future of the world. However, when they are forced into labour, their mental and physical growth is impeded. The child is unable to go to school and is deprived of his/her right to education. This is only one of the many fundamental rights that gets violated when a child is forced to work. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that more than 200 million children are engaged in labour today.
This only serves to highlight the urgency and importance of this day as it strives to eradicate child labour. Children who are freed from the chains of child labour can finally enjoy basic human rights. They have the opportunity to become contributors of social and economic growth.
Twelve percent of all children in India are engaged in some form of child labour, according to data released by UNICEF in 2017. India’s government introduced laws to curb this atrocity. For example, the Child Labour Act in 1986 was the first large-scale prohibition against child labour, and a 2009 law called the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act tightened the child labour laws by guaranteeing free education for children under the age of 14.
However, the reality of the situation is that child labour has its roots deep in the cultural traditions of our country and for poverty-stricken families, that extra income is the only thing between life and death. Therefore, it is important that we raise awareness about this issue and strive to make India a place where child labour is never a necessary evil.
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Updated Date: Jun 12, 2019 07:51:12 IST