New Delhi, Jun 12, (ILNS) June 12 is observed as The World Day Against ”child labour” across the globe. The noble price winner Kailash Satyarthi was five when he first became aware that some children in India did not go to school the way he did, but worked for a living. He had spotted a boy of his own age sitting on a doorstep polishing shoes. “Forget it,” his relatives said: the child was poor, it happened. Still, he plucked up the courage to ask the boy’s father why the child was working. “Sir, we are born to work,” the man told him.
Even at that young age, Satyarthi felt that this was not the way the world should be. And when he finished his own education he turned his back on his intended engineering career and set out to put right the wrong he had perceived. On Friday his efforts were rewarded with the Nobel peace prize. But the announcement left many, even in his own country, wondering how it was that they knew more about Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai – with whom he shared the prize – than they did about the 60-year-old from Delhi. That, Satyarthi would argue, speaks volumes about the work still to be done to change the
way many in India think about the rights of children. Two years ago an investigation into the trafficking of boys from the state of Bihar resulted in the rescue of dozens of children. A year later Bachpan Bachao Andolan, translated as Save the Childhood Movement, which he founded in 1980, helped the Observer to expose the trade in girls from the tea estates of Assam, where poverty wages fuel a thriving modern slave trade.
In a documentary, Satyarthi is shown leading an ambitious operation which is freeing of more than 20 children. in his documentary where he himself explained what had lead him to rescue tens of thousands of children from slavery and to campaign for the millions – five million, according to Indian government figures – of children who still work in India.
he said “I am not the most peaceful person and I am angry because of how people can treat children like that. How they can rob the freedom of human beings and particularly of children, They are criminals, but I am not revengeful. I think there is something wrong in society as a whole, there is something wrong in the mindset of people, and we have
to change it, sometimes through legal course of action but sometimes through consciousness-raising. There are many occasions where we come across corruption and bribery where the police have been bribed and when we arrive to rescue the children suddenly they have disappeared. The word has already been passed to the trafficker and
the trafficker prepares himself with firearms and we are attacked, so these things make me angry, but my anger is a positive anger, it is not to harm anyone but to bring freedom It is very, very dangerous and risky, I have my broken leg and my broken head and my broken back and my broken shoulder, so different parts of my body have been broken while I was trying to rescue children.
I lost two of my colleagues, one was shot dead and one was beaten to death. Most of my junior colleagues have been beaten up many, many times. So it is not an easy game. These people [the traffickers and employers] are like mafia, they are very, very powerful. It is a challenge, definitely, and I know that it is a long battle to fight, but slavery is unacceptable, it is a crime against humanity. I’m not talking in legal terms: morally, I feel I cannot tolerate the loss of freedom of any single child in my own country, so I am a kind of restless person in that sense. We cannot accept this.
Slavery in India persisted because it remained profitable, and because the ordinary people who employed children as servants in their homes, as many as 100,000 in Delhi alone – simply did not think they were doing anything wrong.
I don’t think these people who engage them as domestic slaves ever think of it, they have a different mindset, they think they were born to take work from poor people, sometimes poor people think they were born to work for them. They don’t want to know that it is illegal, it is immoral and it is a crime.
Satyarthi’s years of campaigning have left India with strong laws against trafficking, child labour and bonded labour. But where it still struggled was in implementing those laws, he said.
he further added the look on the face of a freed child is everything. “I strongly believe that every human being, even the animals and plants, are born free. God has made us free, but other human beings or the system made them slaves, so when we free even one child … we are nearer God. I see that once these very pure, very sacred smiles come to
the faces of these children, this is the smile of God.”
World Day Against Child Labour aims to highlight the issue of the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to abolish it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society,
as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the predicament of child laborers and what can be done to help them.This international day was launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2002.
The Significance of the World Day Against Child Labour is to highlight to the problem of child labour and to find ways to suppress it. The day is used to spread awareness
about the harmful mental and physical problems faced by children forced into child labour, all over the world.Around the world, there are 152 million children in child labor; 73
million of them are bulky in dangerous work that directly harms their health, safety or moral development.
According to the ILO, child labor refers to work that: is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
Children may be driven into work for various reasons. Most often, child labour occurs when families face financial challenges or uncertainty – whether due to poverty, sudden illness of a caregiver, or job loss of a primary wage earner.The consequences are staggering. Child labour can result in extreme bodily and mental harm, and even death. It can lead to slavery and sexual or economic exploitation. And in nearly every case, it cuts children
off from schooling and health care, restricting their fundamental rights and threatening their futures.
According to UNICEF, ”Children on the move risk being forced into work or even
trafficked – subjected to violence, abuse and other human rights violations”. Nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, with some forced into hazardous work through trafficking. regardless of the cause, child labour compounds social inequality and
discrimination, and robs girls and boys of their childhood. Unlike activities that help children develop, such as contributing to light housework or taking on a job during school holidays, child labour limits access to education and harms a child’s physical, mental and social growth. Especially for girls, the “triple burden” of school, work and household chores heightens their risk of falling behind, making them even more vulnerable to poverty and exclusion.
causes of child labour:
a) Poverty: like so many other issues in the world, the deep cause of child labour is poverty. Natural disasters or the death of one of both parents can
force children in to such harsh work in order to help their family live day-to-day. Chronic emergencies: things like repeat drought or famine can leave families in awful circumstances where working to survive is one of the few options. Conflict: war or government corruption can turn the lives of children upside down, forcing them to leave schooling and regular routines to earn a living. The demand for low prices and cheap dutiful labour can trap children in hazardous work.
There are many of ways that child labour can affect children, and these can vary depending on which industry the child is working in. Generally, child labourers can suffer from long-term health problems due to malnutrition, exposure to chemicals, abuse, injuries, exhaustion and psychological harm.
In agriculture, children may be exposed to toxic pesticides or fertilizers. They work with dangerous blades and tools and carry heavy loads.
In mining, children may use poisonous chemicals, face the risk of mine collapse, and sometimes work with explosives. In construction, children may carry heavy loads, work at heights without safety equipment, and risk injury from dangerous machinery.
In manufacturing, children may use toxic solvents, perform repetitive tasks in painful positions, and risk injury from sharp tools.
In domestic work, children risk abuse, work long hours, and often live in isolation from their families and friends.
The International Labour Organization said in 2017 that about 152 million children aged from five to 17 – 64 million girls and 88 million girls – are engaged in child labour.
Many of them never go to school or drop out of school because they are required to work to earn a living for their families or have to work to survive themselves. The ILO said 70% work in agriculture, 17% in the services sector and 12% in industry. About 10 million children are regarded as being trapped in modern slavery.
Not only India, many other countries have child labourers. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan have the highest number of child labourers. They have also been affected for many years by wars and conflicts and have the highest numbers of children not at school.
Years of conflict in Syria has seen a dramatic increase in poverty among Syrian families and forced more children into the labour force, especially as refugees face restrictions to legal work from host country governments./ILNS/SNG
By Sona Pal, IInd Year Law Student, Maharishi University of Information Technology and Law