India, a country where there is a constitution, that provides various rights and laws for the protection of human rights, though it can’t eliminate the abuses that are done to these laws. One such abuse that is widely practiced is Child Labour, although the police and government of India along with various non-government organizations, and agencies try their best to curb and eliminate these practices. Child Labour is spread all over India widely.
Child Labour refers to the employment of a child, who is under 14 years of age, for the works that may be related with human labour, that may hazardous or non-hazardous. Even after so many regulations done by the government, that prohibit such practices, these are still being continued.
The Researches conducted by UNICEF, and ILO, estimate that children in age group 5-17 years, who are engaged in Child Labour could be nearly 168 Million, or even more than that. Most of these children are put in the worst way Child Labour, where they suffer a lot. Such Child Labours include slavery, or bonded labour, or forced labour, sexual exploitation, child abuse, child soldiering, illicit activities that may involve drug smuggling. For this, the children are trafficked from one part of the country to another, and sometimes even to other countries, such as in cases where the bodies of the children are used to transport and smuggle drugs, etc.
Sometimes it is seen that the family being poor, sends their child to work, in order to earn money for survival. Children do not have a mature mind, and therefore most of them fall in the traps of addictions, like alcohol and smoking, and sometimes the lack of proper parenting is to be blamed.
Thus, we come to know that one of the greatest reasons of Child labour in India and elsewhere is poverty. Poverty forces the children to go out of their homes to earn wealth at such a young age. Therefore, when the families of such children do not let government regulations stop child labour, by regularly sending them to work, then abolishing such practices become super hard.
The government had been taking measures to protect the rights of the children by enforcing various laws. Especially in cases related to hazardous works and labours. Such statutory protection was the Indian Factories Act, 1881, which came at the start in the 1800s.
This Act contained the provisions regarding regulated hours of working, minimum guaranteed wages, intervals for rest, along with nature of the work for the children. But, it lacked the provision for the prevention of the employment of children.
Therefore, later in the year 1933, an Act, named ‘Children Act, 1933’, got enacted. It prohibited the employment of children who were below the age of 14 years, because of the will of their parents. It had provisions for the punishment given to the parents, if they were found guilty of sending their children under the age of 14 years, for working. The penalty or fine that could be charged from the employer as per the Act is Rs.200 minimum, along with Rs. 50 penalty from the parents.
Then later in the year 1938, The employment of children Act got enacted, that prohibited the employment of children in certain hazardous works, who were under 14 years of age, such as railways, and transport, etc. The Indian Constitution’s Article 15(3) empowers the state, to fix special provisions for children and women. Along with this, an exception is contained within the Indian Constitution, to prohibit the discrimination of any kind, on any subject matter, as per article 15(1). Human trafficking and forced labour are prohibited under article 23. While article 24, says that, children who are under the age of 14 years, must not be employed in any hazardous work, like, mine, factory, etc.
Although the government had done so many efforts, but the Child Labour practices are not coming down. Instead it is increasing with rise in population, and poverty. The Judiciary of India had failed itself, in understanding the rights of the children in complete manner. The government could simply put a Ban on the practice of Child Labour. That is the only way Child Labour can be eliminated. Children are the future of the country, and with their decline, the country’s progress halts, but with their rise, the country progresses and develops.
This article is authored by Divyanshu Mishra, student of BBA LL.B (Hons.) at Amity University, Lucknow.
Also Read – Child Trafficking in India
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