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CHILD LABOR: THE UNSEEN CRIME

Child Labor is one of the most significant topics of the 20th century. What is child labor? The jobs of children under the age of a constitutionally defined age are known as child labor. It is the exploitation of children; by making them do any kind of work which interferes with their right to attend regular school and depriving them of their childhood, their potential, and abilities. This creates a burden on their mental and physical development. Child labor is socially and morally harmful. It mostly occurs because the families face financial crisis and earning of the members is very important for them. Children are typically found as laborers or employees in rural areas and informal urban economies.[1]

Child labor is described differently by UNICEF. A child, suggests UNICEF, is involved in child labor activities if between 5 and 11 years of age, he or she did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work in a week, and in case of children between 12 and 14 years of age, he or she did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work per week. Child Labor is defined under Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986.


CHILD LABOR (PROHIBITION &REGULATION) ACT, 1986.

An Act to prohibit the engagement of children in certain employments and to regulate the conditions of work of children in certain other employments.[2]


A total of 251 cases under the 'Child Labor' (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 were registered during the year 2015. Maharashtra has the highest number of such cases in the world, with 96, followed by Delhi with 57, and Karnataka with 34. Out of 251 cases under the Child Labor (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, 53 cases were related to crimes committed against migrants, 198 cases related to offenses committed against locals.


The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, amended this Act, which describes a child as an individual under the age of 14. The amendment bans the jobs of children aged 6 to 14 in all occupations and processes (except two), and creates a new category of 'adolescents' (those aged 14 to 18) who are barred from working in 'hazardous methods and professions.'[3]Jayakumar Nat & Anr vs State of Nct Of Delhi & Anr. [4]


FACTORIES ACT,1948

No child who has not completed his fourteenth year shall be required or allowed to work in any factory.[5]


The Act makes it illegal to hire children under the age of 14 in any factory. The law also established guidelines for who, where, and how long pre-adults aged 15–18 years should work in factories.


INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANISATION

ILO defines the term child labor as, "work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children or work whose schedule interferes with their ability to attend regular school or work that affects in any manner their ability to focus during school or experience a healthy childhood."[6]


HISTORY

Pre-industrial economies are inextricably associated with child labor. In pre-industrial cultures, there is hardly a definition of childhood in the modern context. As soon as they are capable, children often begin to actively participate in activities such as child-rearing, hunting, and farming. Children as young as 13 are treated as adults in many societies and participate in the same activities as adults.

Children's work was necessary for pre-industrial societies because children needed to provide labor for their survival as well as the survival of their group. Pre-industrial societies were characterized by low productivity and limited life expectancy; prohibiting children from engaging in meaningful work would be more detrimental to their long-term health and that of their group.

There was no need for children to attend school in pre-industrial societies. This is particularly true in communities where people are illiterate. The majority of pre-industrial skills and knowledge could be passed down through direct mentoring or apprenticeship by capable adults.


CAUSES OF CHILD LABOR

The following are some of the major causes of child labor that can be understood in the context of India:

1. POVERTY:

It is difficult to regulate child labor in developing countries because children have traditionally been seen as a helping hand to feed, protect, and feed their families. Parents are unable to feed their children and run their families because of poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. As a result, poor parents force their children to work for low wages in deplorable conditions.

2. PREVIOUS DEBTS:

People in India are forced to borrow money due to their poor economic circumstances. Illiterate people resort to money lenders and often borrow their possessions in exchange for the debt they have taken on. Debtors, on the other hand, find it very difficult to repay their debts and interest due to a lack of revenue. This vicious spiral of poverty forces them to work for the creditor at all hours of the day and night, and then the debtors force their children to help them pay off their monetary obligations.

3. PROFESSIONAL NEEDS:

Some industries, such as the "bangle making" industry, require delicate hands and small fingers to perform extremely minute work with extreme precision. Adults' hands are normally not as fragile and tiny as children's, so they depend on children to work for them and do such hazardous glasswork. This often resulted in serious eye injuries among the children.


UNDER WHICH OCCUPATIONS IS CHILD LABOUR PROHIBITED?

The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, Section III, prohibits children from working in some occupations as well as processes. The Schedule contains a two-part list of dangerous occupations: A and B.

Some of the prohibited occupations are the transport of passengers, goods; or mails by railway, cinder picking, clearing of an ash pit or building operation in the railway premise, the port authority within the limits of any port, work relating to the selling of crackers and fireworks in shops with temporary licenses, abattoirs/slaughterhouses, automobile workshops, and garages, foundries, handloom and power loom industry, beedi making, carpet weaving, cement manufacture including bagging of cement, cloth printing, dyeing, and weaving, etc.


EFFORTS OF GOVERNMENT TO STOP CHILD LABOUR

The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 forbids the employment of children under the age of 14 in 16 occupations and 65 processes that endanger children's lives and health. Many states, including Haryana, have developed child labor rehabilitation and welfare funds at the district level, as well as separate labor cells to address the problem.

Since 1988, the federal government has been implementing national child labor programs in states to provide non-formal education and pre-vocational skills. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, which began in 2001, aims to educate poor and working-class children in all states. The Ministry of Women and Child Development provides non-formal education and vocational training. The government's establishment of Anganwadies is also a significant move forward for children's welfare and physical, emotional, and educational growth.


CONCLUSION

India will combat the problem of child labor if public knowledge about the dangers of child labor is spread across the country and strict enforcement of existing laws is enforced. Every person must recognize the importance of children's growth and education, as they are the ones who will shape the nation's future.


AUTHORS: ANUSHKA THAKUR & B. TEJAS REDDY

[1]S. Ananthakrishnan vs The State of Madras, 19th Oct, 1951. [2](61 of 1986). [3] “INTRODUCTION” THE CHILD LABOUR (PROHIBITION AND REGULATION) ACT, 1986. [4]4th September, 2015. [5](67&68 OF 1948). [6]IPEC, 1992.

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