End of the Childhood: Child Labor



The toes that should be roaming around,  

Free from any worldly affair, 


The hands that should be playing about, 


Is all busy washing the plates, For the sake of a few pennies’, They are getting molested by “others”. Is this what these children deserve??


The reports of The United Nations state that, in India, around 30 million child laborers are ranging from the age 10-15years. This picture/stats highlights the gloomy picture of “ the rising state of India”.



Child Labour in India

The concept of child labor has a vast definition in a country like India, it represents a new aspect of Indian society in whatever sphere we look at. India being an agriculturally dominant society is dominated by child workers in the farms, who for a little money work on stake works day and night in that state.

 

They do this to assist their parents in earning enough livelihood for a meal at least once a day. They are not just forced to work in the field, but are also harassed and molested both physically and mentally with a little to no scope of escape.

 

In a rural society like India, they just can’t be seen working in the fields but also bangles and brick furnaces that destroys both their childhood and health. Child labor is seen in urban areas as well, we can see small children whom we usually designate as “chotu” in various roadside dhabas, tea stalls as well as various urban industries such as carpet making and exchange get beaten by their employs and get only a meager amount of food. 



Why child labor Still Prevails?

It is of great concern that the ones who call themselves the educated elite of the society at many occasions employ these children to work at their homes as servants and maids, a commodity that they feel they can buy at any time. 


On many occasions, these children are given away by their families in a hope that they will be provided a good life, but the sad reality is that these children are often sold for money. 


Study shows that 5 states in India contribute to 50% in the child labor index. These five states are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh. This depicts the true nature of labor sources in India.



Causes of child labor in India

The question that arises is what are the conditions that force these children and their families to enter the world of child labor? The main reason is the chronic poverty that prevails in Indian society today. The cheap labor that they provide is one of the main reasons for widespread child labor. 


Only for a meager amount of Rs.300 or Rs.500 a month, these children work in the worst conditions possible, with a very little chance of ever coming out of their situation. 


While the children work in factories and fields and as house helps, their parents work for a meager livelihood in construction sites and as agricultural laborers. Another reason for prevalent child labor is the absence or poor quality of schools in rural areas. Either the teachers are not available or they are indulging, which leads to many children to drop out of the schools.


This contributes to high rates of illiteracy and these school dropouts are a potential pool of child laborers. These incidents are most common in marginalized households of Dalits and tribal and the illiterate rural households. It is the girl child who faces the most risk. 



Percussion

Although child marriage is a crime in India still it is practiced in various rural societies. A recent study suggests that India accounts for 30% of child marriages worldwide. Due to early marriage, the girl child has to give up schooling even if they have a desire to continue their education.


Most of the people in India are self-employed which means that most people have their farms or small petty businesses. Asking the kids to lend help in the work is only natural and it contributes a little to the overall income of these informal households. 


Due to poor nutrition and lack of healthcare facilities and poor quality hygiene, these children become prone to several diseases. This contributes to the overall burden on the families.


All of the child laborers don’t work of their own will. A huge percentage of children are trafficked in the vicious pool of child laboring in factories and informal workplaces. Middlemen get a hefty amount of money for each of these “lost children”.


On many occasions, it’s the father who sells their child for a little sum of money. The children are sold and bought like they are animals and are forced to live in the worst way possible. This heart-wrenching reality has a bad effect on all walks of life. 



Impact on Children

Child labor and trafficking not only hampers a child’s health physically but also mentally and emotionally. The child becomes an adult before the age. On many occasions, the girl child is given sedatives’ that matures their body before their age and are sold and trafficked as sex slaves/labor. 


At this juncture, we must question ourselves that have taken any steps to eradicate child labor? 


The only steps taken are by forming and passing a few laws which in reality is not feared by any. Various NGOs are working to rescue as many children as possible from the vicious circle of child labor. But again the question that comes to mind is that is this enough? 




Written By Tanu

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