Anti-Child Labour Day in April is inspired by the need to highlight the conditions of underaged workers around the world.
At an age when they should be playing and dreaming, millions of children are pushed into a life of servitude for many reasons. Children who stay out of school and those who belong to economically backward families are most likely to end up in jobs before it is legal for them to start. The families, due to their economic vulnerability, start viewing their children as tools to earn some extra money.
The Child Labour Prohibition and Prevention Act was formulated as a measure to protect children from such exploitation. It was later amended to include adolescents, and thus, the Child and Adolescent Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act came into effect. The Act ensures protection to children up to the age of 14 and adolescents up to the age of 18 from forced work that interferes with their education and health. There is, however, a clause allowing permission to families to use their children’s help in businesses and establishments they own.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989, has clearly indicated in Article 32 that it is the right of every child to be protected against economic exploitation. Any work that is likely to be detrimental to their life or well-being and development is not to be forced on to them, including employing them while they still hold the status of ‘children’. The states are also required to take action against any person/s violating these provisions. India however, has made a reservation to Article 32 of the CRC at the time of ratification.
Along with the laws and provisions in our country, there is also the Childline which works with various departments of the Government to ensure the welfare of children. Once this Childline gets a tip-off, an investigation is carried out and the police and the Labour Department get involved. The Child Rights Commission takes a decision as to what punishment must be given to the offenders. The guidelines on whether the children must be sent back to school or sent back home are also laid down by the CRC. In case a fine need be levied, the complaint must be escalated to the level of the court and necessary judgements need to be passed.
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