Every year June 12 is celebrated as “World Day Against Child Labour”. This day was launched by the International Labour Organisation to bring people’s attention to child labour and to curb this abhorrent practice. The theme for 2017 is “In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labour”.
Globally, over 168 million children are engaged in child labour in areas affected by conflicts and disasters. According to UNICEF, over 3,00,000 children are forced into armed combat. The forced labour from children generates around $150 million a year in illegal profits. According to a 2011 census conducted by UNICEF, 10.1 million children are engaged in child labour in India. There are over 1.2 million children working in hazardous occupations in India alone. Children as young as 6 are employed in cutting diamonds because it requires adept and steady hands, precision, and good eyesight.
To avoid excise duty, dealers use children to illegally transport alcohol across borders, and these children do not appear as victims of child labour – rather they appear in crime statistics.
The kids that should be holding books in their hands are holding bricks. It is not uncommon to see how little kids in ripped clothes with their bleak smiles serving at tea stalls, and instead of playing in the open field, doing dishes as domestic help. Somewhere or somehow, we have all been complicit to child labour.
People employing children in their establishment can face legal action
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 defines child as “a person who has not completed the age of 14”. Employing a child as domestic help can land a person in jail. The following legislation protects the interests of children, including:
- As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, “employment of children below the age of 14 in any commercial enterprise is illegal”.
- As per the Mines Act 1952, employment of children below the age of 18 is illegal in mines. Any person who is between 14-18 years old cannot work in any hazardous occupations.
- No child can work between 7 PM and 8 AM.
- Children can only work as artists in the audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisements, films, television serials, etc.
All those employing children below the age of 14 years for any work, except where a child is helping his family post-school hours or during vacations, can get between six months and two years of imprisonment, and a fine ranging from ₹20,000–₹50,000. A second-time conviction can lead to imprisonment upto three years. Parents and guardians of such children also face punishment.
“We receive many enquiries regarding labour and services issues, but no one till date has ever reported and sought help to prevent child labour. Most of us choose to turn a blind eye to this issue,” adds Rohan Mahajan, Founder of lawyer-search platform LawRato.com.
You can prevent child labour
The Ministry of Women & Child Development enables you to stand for vulnerable children 24 hours-a-day and 365 days of the year. The next time you see a child begging at a traffic signal or a child working as domestic help, please call the toll-free number 1098. The Ministry is eager to help and links children to shelter services, protecting children from abuse, providing medical assistance, and assisting in reuniting missing children with their families. These small hands can handle a pen better than a mop. So help in building a better future for that “chotu” at the chaiwalla.
For additional legal assistance and advice, visit LawRato.com.