Every child matters, if we fail our children, we are bound to fail our present, our future, faith, cultures and civilizations as well: Kailash Satyarthi
Children are considered as the future of a nation. They are an asset not only to the family but to the entire country. It is a prime responsibility of civilized society to protect our children from any kind of complexity, harm and abuse. Every child has a right to live life in a dignified manner. So forcing a child to work in a hazardous atmosphere affects their mental as well as physical health and is the worst form of abuse. It robs the children of their innocence and courteous life. It snatches a child from a happy childhood and strips basic things from their life like education, health and food. Child labour remains to be an untreated malady.
The children are forced to work in restaurants, shops, and factories to support their families who are stricken by poverty and other tragedies of life. Though there are several anti-labour laws and child welfare schemes, on the ground we still see a massive number of children being exploited for cheap labour thus barring them from attending the schools. Once these children start working, 80 per cent of child labourers stop attending school altogether.
According to the United Nations, 160 million children are still engaged in child labour which means 1 in 10 children is a victim of child labour worldwide. In India, child labour in the 5-17 age group is highest followed by Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal as per the data reflected in the International labour organization report titled ‘Child Labor in South Asia’. The census report from 2011 projects that the number of child labourers in India is 10.1 million of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. The data in itself speaks volumes as to how grave the issue is globally as well as nationally. The Sustainable development goals target 8.7 also focused on the eradication of child labour by 2025 but achieving this target appears to be a herculean task as the practice of child labour goes unabated.
Every year 12 June is celebrated as world day against child labour to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour. The day was launched by the International labour organization in 2002 to compel the world community to take immediate and effective actions to abolish and prohibit child labour in any form. This year also the day is being celebrated with the theme” Social Justice for all. End the Child Labour”. But the aim of these themes and events should not be confined only to public speeches and lectures which end up forgetting the basic purpose of the day. But the concrete actions and implementation of laws and child protection schemes shall be ignited with robust follow-ups to wipe out the root causes of the menace. Participation of civil society organizations with the government, effective implementation of child protection services, creating awareness among people and sensitizing the law enforcement agencies can be the first step forward to curb this highly prevalent menace in society. It’s high time we must act together to guard our children from exploitation and create a conducive environment for their proper care and protection.
The author works with Child Protection Services, Government of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. He writes on child protection issues, and can be reached at [email protected]