A walk to end Child Labour
~World Vision India and partners joins hands against Child labour~

Kanpur June, 2014: Around 1000 people gathered at Viren Swaroop Park, Kanpur city and took to the road on a rally to create awareness and raise their voice against child labour. The rally ended at Lajpat bhavan where government officials, community members, civil society’s members and former child labours held an event to discuss the issues of child labour. World Vision India along with Child protection forum Kanpur organised these event to observe ‘World Day against Child Labour’.
In a city where child labour is very evident and the numbers are high, many children are just a number that has slipped in the cracks of a society, apathetic to the horrors of child labour. Once a domestic worker and drop out from school as her parents could not afford her education, Vandana today stands firm and raised her voice against child labour. On World Vision India’s continuous request, her parents send her to the non-formal study center run by the organisation. Since day one Vandana has not stop coming to the center and now she is enrolled in school.

Many children like Vandana, quit school and begin working to sustain their family’s income and help their parents. In a country that adopts a lenient approach towards putting an end to child labour, it becomes tough to combat both the policy-level and ground-level obstacles which effectively promote the practice. Even on the global level, when the Convention 182 of the ILO talks about the “worst forms of child labour”, it works against the basic purpose itself. Effectively, this nomenclature leads to the juxtaposition of the extreme versus the rest, naturally focussing attention on the extreme forms and taking off substantial load off the others. The fact remains that child labour in any form, in any age below 18, is hazardous to children on many levels.

One of the key requirements would be an immediate revision of the RTE act that presently does not bring under its ambit children in the 15-18 age-bracket, in spite of the UN Conventions of the Rights of the Child defining children as individuals below the age of 18. This waives off the mandatory years of education off the chart for thousands of vulnerable children. Though the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill which proposes to prohibit employment of children below 14 in all sectors and adolescents (14-18) in hazardous sectors has already been introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2012, there has been little to cheer about. For a tangible change to take place there needs to be a blanket ban on all forms of child labour below 18.
Anil Khandekar from World Vision India affirms the importance of inclusive platforms where vulnerable children could speak out, in order for instances to be identified and corrected. “The involvement of teachers and parents is crucial in the process of addressing child labour. Child Protection Committees, Children’s Consultations and meetings of former child labourers are also needed, as these offer exploited children the much-required space to talk about what they go through. NGOs and media too have key roles to play, in taking the message to the masses,” he said.

Most of the instances of child labour today happen inside homes and closed walls in the form of domestic labour, and this makes it a Herculean task to identify and act upon the cases. A well thought-out, graded rehabilitation process needs to be in place, so that children who come from such backgrounds blend well into the road ahead. Child Protection Units need to be firmly in place in each of the vulnerable areas, so that community members, government officials, teachers, parents and children themselves can be a part of the rescue and rehabilitation process. The age-appropriate vocational training is also critical, and needs to be given to children alongside formal education, with the skill-training to begin only after 16. The country stands to lose precious generations if it continues to slide backwards on addressing the concerns of the little ones who break their backs and hearts.
World Vision India’s approach and advocacy calls for:

- Strict enforcement of existing laws on child labour especially employers.
- Effective implementation of Right to Education Act with adequate funding
- Development of alternative education options and training schemes for child labourers especially for children in the age group of 14-18
- Mobilizing all children against child labour
- Enhance economic security of families of all child labourers
- Ensuring participation of child labourers in decisions that affect them
- Enforcement of standards that eliminate child labour even in the supply chain or outsourced jobs by all industries, Corporates and businesses

World Vision India is a Christian grassroots humanitarian organisation that serves all people regardless of religion, caste, race, ethnicity or gender. Through development, relief and advocacy, we strive/seek to create lasting change in the lives of children, their families and communities living in contexts of poverty and injustice. World Vision works in nearly 100 countries worldwide, and we have been in India since 1962. Today we work in over 5300 urban, rural and tribal communities spread over 163 districts across 24 states impacting the lives of 24 lakh children.
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Atul Malikram
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