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About The Child Labour Act

Context:

Recently, an incident came into light where a couple was accused of hiring a 10-year-old girl as a stay-at-home help to care for their 4-year-old son and was subjected to physical and mental abuse on several occasions.

Relevance:

GS II: Issues Related to Children

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Child Labour: Exploring Child Domestic Work and its Hazards in India
  2. Factors Contributing to Child Labor in Domestic Work in India
  3. Socio-Economic Impact of Child Labour

Child Labor: Exploring Child Domestic Work and its Hazards in India

Child Domestic Labour:
  • Child domestic work refers to children’s involvement in domestic tasks within the home of a third party or employer.
  • It includes situations where children perform domestic work below the relevant minimum age, engage in hazardous conditions, or experience slavery-like situations.
Risks Associated with Child Domestic Work
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) has identified several hazards specific to domestic workers, which also affect children engaged in domestic service.
  • Common risks faced by child domestic workers include long and exhausting working hours, exposure to toxic chemicals, carrying heavy loads, handling dangerous items like knives and hot pans, and inadequate food and accommodation.
  • The risks are exacerbated when the child lives in the household where they work, leading to further exploitation.
Child Labor Situation in India:
  • As per the National Crime Records Bureau Report 2022, approximately 982 cases of child labor were registered under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, in 2021.
  • The states with the highest number of registered cases were Telangana, followed by Assam.
  • A study by Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) revealed a significant increase in the proportion of working children from 28.2% to 79.6% among 818 surveyed children.
  • The rise in child labor was attributed to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools.
  • The states with the highest number of child labor employers are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
Addressing Child Labor:
  • The prevalence of child labor remains a pressing issue in India, demanding immediate attention and effective measures to protect the rights and well-being of vulnerable children.

Factors Contributing to Child Labor in Domestic Work in India:

  • Economic and Social Conditions: Families facing financial difficulties often rely on child labor as a means to supplement family income.
  • Insufficient Policies and Wages: Lack of effective policies ensuring sufficient wages for adult workers may result in children being paid even less, compelling them to work in domestic settings.
  • Systematic Exploitation: Children from impoverished households may be forced to work beyond their physical and mental capacity, leading to a cycle of slavery in 24×7 house help employment.
  • Traditional Beliefs: Certain communities and families have a tradition of involving children in specific occupations, like agriculture, carpet weaving, or domestic service, while deeming education unnecessary, especially for girls.
  • Migration and Vulnerability: Tribals and Dalits migrating to urban areas from poorer regions become vulnerable to exploitation and are easy targets for child labor in domestic work.
  • Lack of Access to Quality Education: Many schools in India lack proper facilities, teachers, and quality education, leading parents to discourage their children from attending school or causing them to drop out.
  • Natural Disasters and Conflicts: Events like natural disasters, conflicts, and pandemics can disrupt society, making children more vulnerable to exploitation as they lose their homes and access to basic services.

Socio-Economic Impact of Child Labour:

  • Impaired Human Capital: Child labor prevents children from acquiring essential skills and knowledge, leading to diminished future productivity and earning potential.
  • Suppressed Wages: The presence of child labor in the workforce lowers wages for unskilled work, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and encouraging continued child labor.
  • Stifled Innovation: Child labor hampers the development of a skilled and educated workforce, hindering technological advancements and innovations that contribute to long-term economic growth.
  • Denial of Rights: Child labor deprives children of their fundamental rights to education, health, protection, and participation, limiting their opportunities and social mobility.
  • Weakened Social Fabric: The prevalence of child labor weakens social development and cohesion within a country, impacting stability and democratic values.
  • Adverse Health and Well-being: Child labor exposes children to hazardous conditions, physical injuries, diseases, abuse, and exploitation, leading to adverse effects on their physical and mental well-being, mortality rates, and life expectancy.

-Source: The Hindu


April 2024
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