The tragedy of child servitude

India holds the dubious distinction of having the largest number of child labourers in the world today. As per the 2001 census, India is a home to around 1.29 crore child labourers. Child labour is a hazard to a child’s mental, physical, social development. Any child who is employed in activities to feed self and family is being subjected to “child labour’.

Willie Severes | JULY 27, 2012, 07:10 AM IST

Poor family conditionswith a less income forces the child to work and earn at a very lowerage. It becomes a compulsion for them to work and earn livelihood forthemselves and for the sake of their families. Lack of education andignorance of parents also contributes in lack of education of thechild, whose only other option is to work to earn a living. An unjusttreatment on grounds of caste or religion can sometimes play its partinto child labour.

It can be seen that ahuge number of lower age girls are being employed by middle and upperclass families in Goa as domestic servants. Most of these girls comefrom Orissa, Karnataka and other states of India. Sometimes thesechildren have to go through psychological, verbal and physical abusefrom the employers. Many children are also seen working in shops andrestaurants. In March this year, a raid by Goa State Commission forprotection of child rights led to the discovery of child workers at atop state-run medical facility canteen.

Child trafficking isalso another cause of child labour. A number of children are boughtand sold and are exploited to work as beggars. They children areoften seen pestering local and foreign tourists in the cities of Goa.These children are exploited primarily due to lack of education andalso that they are not aware of their rights. Many children doextremely hazardous work in harmful conditions, putting their health,personal and social development, and even their lives at risk. Insevere cases, they are beaten up and not even provided with propermeals.

A slow approach by thegovernment in enforcing the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)Act, 1986 has led to the rapid increase in child labour in thecountry. It is time the government, especially the labour departmentwith the help of the NGO's take all possible steps to put a completeban on any form of child labour. Covering children between three to18 years under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory EducationAct, will also act as one of the necessary measure towards abolishingchild labour in India.

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