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Child Labour and Human Rights Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jamal, India May 21, 2004
Human Rights , Labour Rights , Child & Youth Rights , Media   Opinions


(1) The rights to survival (Art 6 & 24)
It includes the right of life, the highest attainable standards of health, nutrition of adequate standards of living. It also includes the right to a name and nationality.

(2) The right to protection (Art 18 & 32)
It includes freedom from all forms of exploitation, abuse, inhuman or degrading treatment and neglect including the right to special protection in situations of emergency and armed conflicts.

(3) The right to development (Art 6 & 28)
Includes the right to education, support for early childhood development and care, social security, and the right to leisure, recreation and cultural activities.

(4)The right to participation (Art 12)
Includes respect for the views of the child, freedom of expression, access to appropriate information and freedom of though, conscience and religion.

Convention has also provided certain guidelines for adopting as well as implementing the convention at National, regional and international level.

Government Initiatives and their Failure

Long before International convention on the rights of the child, constitution of India provides safeguards for children through certain directives. For example “Article 24” of constitution says that children below 14 years should not be employed in factory, mine or any other hazardous condition/ occupation. Article 35(e) urges that the tender age of children ought not to be abused and argues against their being given such work which is not suited to their age. On the other hand Article 45(f) is mandate to the state to try and provide free and compulsory education.

In spite of all these provisions, the law makers have to bow down to the harsh reality of a national situation, neglecting the UN convention’s recommendations. Several Acts are periodically enacted with a view to providing legal protection to children in various occupations. To start with Indian factory Act 1948, which provide (Sec 67) employment of young children (14 years) and many such other acts like Plantation labour act 1951 which prohibited employment of under 12 years in plantation. Merchant shipping act 1951, Mines Act 1952, Apprentices Act 1961, Beedi & Cigar Worker (Condition of employment) Act 1966.

But these acts have hardly provided any protection to children by limiting their working hours, wages, and safety in hazardous occupations. On the contrary, as a cheap source of labour, their exploitation continued unabated.

Even the latest Child Labour (Regulation & Prohibition) act 1986 adds nothing substantial to the previous acts. In fact this act has been criticized for institutionalizing and regularizing child labour rather than moving towards its elimination. Only children working in organised sector (10%) are covered by the act. In envisages anti poverty measures to rehabilitate child workers without offering an alternative to their employees for whom children are a cheap source of labour. Even punishment for them is too light. Besides, the act does not include many occupations which are really hazardous like bangle factories or the slate industries. It only tried to improve their working conditions – reducing working hours, ensuring minimum wages and providing facilities for health and education.

NGO Initiatives

So far role of government & international efforts in promoting rights of child was discussed. The NGO community has emerged to be a potent force in catalyzing various actions through the mobilization of social forces and pressing govt. to take needed action. There are many examples of NGO’s successfully working both for the integrated development of children and the elimination of child labour. Some are engaged in implementing NFE programmes with the help of grant-in-aid from ministry of labour, and yet others with the assistance from IPEC (International Program for Elimination of Child Labour). Worth of special mention are – CREDA (Centre for rural education and development action), Bandhwa Mukti Morcha, M.V. foundation etc. These NGO’s have very successfully worked in the area of child labour, played a very significant role in fighting against bonded labour and other explorations of children and motivating families for giving education to their children instead of sending them for work.

Hundred of NGOs are working across the country with great enthusiasm and dedication to identify and release of children from work & to rehabilitate them. They work in varied circumstances against heavy odds. Some of them have met with only partial success but the magnitude of the problem of child labour in India is so large that occasional success may not create a perceptible impact despite the best efforts.

Suggestions of Conclusion

The issue before us today is to find ways and means to eradicate the multiple forms of child abuse and neglect suffered by child workers. Undoubtedly the problem has to be tackled at different levels. Any attempt to eliminate this injustice only by the magic formula of legal ban is unworkable; rather it must be carried out through economic upliftment, education & strong political education and strong political will to enforce policies.


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Hi ! I am a professional social worker. most of my writings and poems are reflections of my day- today work and issues. I also write poems in Hindi, which so far cannot be posted on TIG.
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