Throughout the world, approximately 215 million children work; some full-time while other part-time. They do not attend school or have time to play. Drained of youth and the joys it brings along, many of these children are forced to engage in the worse forms of child labour; often which are hazardous to their health. Many in fact do not get proper nutrition or care. Many of the worst forms of child labour they are engaged in include working in hazardous environments, slavery or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict. It includes bonded labour, forced labour, sex trafficking and child labour. Child labour in factories is one of the forced laborious activities prevalent even in today’s times. It may include factory work, mining or quarrying, agriculture, helping in the parents’ business, doing odd jobs, etc.
Some of the areas where child labour is prevalent include Philippines, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil; but this is no match to other places such as Ethiopia, Pakistan, Burundi, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia, North Korea and Myanmar (Burma).
India is sadly home to the largest number of child labourers in the world. The main causes for child labour include poverty, illiteracy, and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Laws that are meant to protect children from hazardous labour are ineffective and not implemented properly. Besides this, an increasingly growing phenomenon is using children as domestic workers in urban areas. Along with this there are issues of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of child domestic workers.
Child labour in India is highest and most prevalent among schedule castes, schedules tribes, Muslims and OBC children. Furthermore, this has given rise to human trafficking across the world; which in fact is a very lucrative industry (most profitable illegal industry) in the world. Some of these children are born into bondage and are forced to follow a parent’s trade causing physical and psychological damage for children.
Child labour is not an easy issue to resolve as it is an issue strongly linked to the economy of a nation. Many of these children are from poor families and are forced to work to pay for their education or for their families. Child labour is a global crisis and need to be tackled on a global scale to protect and promote the rights of all children, especially the right to receive a free education. Child labour is increasing and is on the rise, especially in supply-chain countries.
Various charitable organizations have been established to stop child labour across the world. For example, CRY (Child Relief and You) UK as well as in other parts of the world; The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) work towards elimination of child labour by strengthening the capability of countries to deal with the problem and by promoting a worldwide movement to combat child labour.
Across the world countless laws and policies against the exploitation of children already exist – BUT the political WILL to enforce them is missing! Education will always remain the key to ending exploitation of children across the world. Focus should not merely be stressed on children but also on education programs for adults to prevent them from making those small sacrifices to NOT send their children to school. There is an inverse relationship between adult literacy rates and the incidence of child labour in the long run.
Child labour can only be tackled from its ROOT problem. Education- be it the child or the parent!