Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ubiquitous child labourers belie official claims

Ubiquitous child labourers belie official claims

Binay Singh, TNN Jun 13, 2012, 02.35AM IST

VARANASI: The labour department of Varanasi claimed that one child labourer engaged in non-hazardous occupation and 12 children in hazardous occupation were identified so far in the current financial year (2012-13).
It sounds pleasant when the World Day Against Child Labour was celebrated across the globe on Tuesday. But, the fact is that one could see a number of children engaged in various works everyday at different places. The roadside food joints, dhabas and tea shops are the common sites to see child labourers.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year, on 12 June, the day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them. This year the theme of the Day is 'Human rights and social justice'.
According to the UN report, the latest figures estimated that 215 million children, 127 million boys and 88 million girls are trapped in child labour and 115 million of these children, including 74 million boys and 41 million girls in the worst form. The ILO member states have set the target for eliminating the worst forms of Child Labour by 2016.
According to assistant labour commissioner Anurag Mishra, a total of 1,744 child labourers had been identified by the department from December 10,1996 to 2011-12. Among them, 1929 children were engaged in hazardous industries and 815 in non-hazardous industries. "So far, 12 children were found engaged in hazardous and one in non-hazardous industries in 2012-13," said Mishra. Some figures quoted by Mishra, particularly for 2012-13, differ from the record provided by the office of the deputy labour commissioner.
According to the records, 10 child labourers, including nine in hazardous and one in non-hazardous industries were identified in 2012-13 till May. "The fact is that UP is on the top of the list for having child labourers. The state has the highest, 20 per cent of India's child labourers," Rajni Kant, the state convener of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) and president of Human Welfare Association (HWA), said.
It may be mentioned here that CACL had recently released a report on the status of child rights in the state titled as '20 years of United Nation Child Rights Convention - a balance sheet' in May. According to the report, there are 1,26,66,377 child labourers in the country and UP alone has 19,27,997 child labourers.
Earlier, at the national level, a balance sheet of the 20 years of CRC had also been released in November last year on the occasion of the International Children's Day (November 20) by the New Delhi based HAQ Centre for Child Rights and Terre Des Hommes, Germany.
According to the report, there are 57 laws and 60 legal provisions, 9 policy documents, a separate plan of action for children and many goals and targets set out under five year plans, 73 budgeted programmes and schemes of the Central government for children from nine ministries, a full-fledged ministry to cater to the children's rights and a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), yet there is no respite for children.NCPCR also held a public hearing on the issue of 'Child labour and other child rights issues' at the auditorium of divisional commissioner's office in December last year. A total of 36 cases of child rights violation related to child labour, child trafficking and other issues were taken up during the hearing.

The worst forms of child labour are:
# All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom as well as forced labour.
# The use, procurement or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances.

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