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Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.

Child is the back bone of society as well as pillar of our nation. Though it is a desirable goal the remove all abusing activities against child remove from our society to develop Country. It is well known that child labour in an important sick of society which effect the development of society due to a big portion not play their skill for society due to limited their self in searching of basic need i.e. “roti ,kapara aur makan”. One cannot dispute the fact that employers exploit children by paying them much less than what they would pay in adult and the future of the working children is ruined as they will not be able to attend schools and get educated for a better future.But the economic compulsions of the families which force the children to work.

Realizing the harm caused by child labour, the Indian Government made laws to protect children from exploitation at work and to improve their working condition. Besides, a comprehensive law called Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. 1986, was promulgated to prohibit employment of children in certain hazardous occupations and processes.

In 1987, the Indian government formulated National Police on Child Labour to protect the interests of children and focus on general development programmes for the benefit of children. As a part of this policy National Child Labour Projects have been set up in different parts of the country to rehabilitate child labour. Under these projects, special schools are established to prove non-formal education, vocational training, supplementary nutrition etc. to children who are withdrawn from employment.

The development countries are exerting pressure on developing countries like India to eliminate child labour. According to the current thinking the developed countries may stop imports of those goods that involve child labour in their production. In some of our cottage industries like making of carpets, children are employed in larger numbers. These carpets, which are being exported, may soon lose their market abroad if the producers of these carpets persist with child labour.

Almost every country in the world has laws relating to and aimed at preventing child labour. International Labour Organisation has helped set international law, which most countries have signed on and ratified.

According to ILO minimum age convention (C138) of 1973, child labour refers to any work performed by children under the age of 12, non-light work done by children aged 12-14, and hazardous work done by children aged 15-17. Light work was defined, under this Convention, as any work that does not harm a child's health and development, and that does not interfere with his or her attendance at school. This convention has been ratified by 135 countries.

The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which was subsequently ratified by 193 countries. Article 32 of the convention addressed child labour, as follows:

...Parties recognise the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

Under Article 1 of the 1990 Convention, a child is defined as "... every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Article 28 of this Convention requires States to, "make primary education compulsory and available free to all."

Three countries yet to domestically ratify the 1990 Convention include Somalia, South Sudan and the United States.

In 1999, ILO helped lead the Worst Forms Convention 182 (C182), which has so far been signed upon and domestically ratified by 151 countries including the United States. This international law prohibits worst forms of child labour, defined as all forms of slavery and slavery-like practices, such as child trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labour, including forced recruitment of children into armed conflict. The law also prohibits use of a child for prostitution or the production of pornography, child labour in illicit activities such as drug production and trafficking; and in hazardous work.

The United States has passed a law that allows Amish children older than 14 to work in traditional wood enterprises with proper supervision.

In addition to setting the international law, the United Nations initiated International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 1992. This initiative aims to progressively eliminate child labour through strengthening national capacities to address some of the causes of child labour. Amongst the key initiative is the so-called time bounded program countries, where child labour is most prevalent and schooling opportunities lacking. The initiative seeks to achieve amongst other things, universal primary school availability. The IPEC has expanded to at least the following target countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Nepal, Tanzania, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa and Turkey.

Child labour is, no doubt, an evil that should be done away with at the earliest. The prevalence of child labour reflects very badly on society that is not able to stop this evil. But in a society where many households may have to suffer the pangs of hunger if the children are withdrawn from work, beggars can’t be choosers. These families have to send their children to work, even if the future of these innocents is ruined, as that is the only choice open for them to survive in this world. Therefore, unless the socio-economic status of the poor families is improved, India has to live with child labour.

By-
     Mr.Mrityunjai Pandey
     Assistant Professor
     M.A., P.G.D.L.L., C.I.P.R., LL.M, P.G.D.I.M.
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