Childhood is meant for education, enjoyment and having a carefree attitude. The worries and problems of life are associated with adults and are not to burden children in their growing up years.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all been to a dhaba or an obscure tea stall. One thing that most of these have in common is the fact that the owners of these small establishments often employ children- from their own homes or elsewhere, to do the dirty work for them.
An act of Child Labour isone of the biggest roadblocks faced by humanity today. To raise awareness about the same, World Day Against Child Labour is observed every year on 12 June. An initiative by UNESCO, the World Day helps fight the battles that these children can’t.
This year’s theme for World Day against Child Labour is “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!” The message that this head sends out is as strong and relevant as ever.
Sadly due to abject poverty and family circumstances, children sometimes as young as 10 or even younger are forced into labor to make their families economically sustainable. Their childhood is cruelly snatched from them. They are made to work several hours a day, often in gruelling conditions, to earn a pittance, at times even lower than the minimum daily wage rate.
In India itself, the issue of child labour is sky high. As per a few reports, the figure comes to a whopping 12 million children. Globally, the number reaches a peak at a jaw dangling count of 200 million Also, these same reports have stated that the number of girls involved is not far behind from how many boys are involved.
The largest numbers work in places like textile factories, dhabas (roadside restaurants) and hotels, or as domestic workers. Much of the work, such as in firecracker or matchstick factories, can be hazardous; even if not, conditions are often appalling and simply rob kids of their childhood.
From the young age of around 7-9 years, these children are picked up by the money hungry establishment owners and are made to work, mostly, without pay. The worst part is that educated people across the globe feel that there is nothing they can do, when in fact, a little help from them would mean a world of difference to these children.
Child labour is a phenomenon that is largely predominant in third world countries. People here lack education, which is a major reason as to why they can’t educate their own children. Since they live in abject poverty, they have to earn a living through these children. Poverty is the main reason why children have to be subjected to such a derogatory phenomenon and a lack of education is what breeds poverty. The cycle seems never ending.
Over the past several decades, the Indian government- and many NGOs as well- have been hard at work to crack down on those that pursue the act of child labour. In 2009, the government passed a law that it would become mandatory for all children from 6-14 years to attend school, no matter what their background is like. Another law that was passed in 2000 made it a crime to engage children in any kind of hazardous employment.
At a very local level, you too can make a difference by giving the children any kind of education that you can. Apart from that, you can also help take the children to a foster home or to an NGO that will look after them and provide them with at least the basic amenities.
A workplace is no place for a child. Children are carefree, imaginative, wild and the world would do well to hone each child’s skills and creativity. A pandora’s box of ideas is what children are and there is no point in marring these basic skills that they inherently possess.