Child labour- a heartbreaking world beyond our privileged lives
By Roma Dehradun
From starting our day with going to our jobs, to coming home and ending our day by spending time with our families and friends, little do we realize how blessed we are. On a day like this, more often then not, we cross paths with a number of children doing menial jobs on the roadside, in buses, in street food stalls and loc eateries etc. Their hustle is not for some luxuries but for two square meals. In return, the money they earn couldn’t possibly suffice for one time snacks for us.
We are living in a world of temptations and luxuries, where little children pay the price of many of our privileges by being compelled to join the workforce very early in life. Whether it is the Film and Television industry, railways for our transportation, the food industry or even the glamour world of fashion and make-up accessories- children are employed in subhuman conditions and made to work long hours for very meagre compensation.
The constitution of India defines Child Labour as the employment of any child under the age of 14 years. Child labour is the cancer of the society. It affects the child’s mental, personal, social and physical growth. The child is deprived of not only of education but also of his/her childhood.
Industries stealing the childhood of children-
We can’t even imagine that the glamourous world of beauty industry is ruining the lives of millions of children. As beautiful as the shimmery make-up may products seem, the secret behind their production is dark.
The common ingredients of most of the shiny highlighters, eyeshadows , lip glosses etc. is Mica, a natural flaky mineral prevalent in India. Before these are ready to come our doors, the Mica for their production is to be mined. It is a little known secret that children are compelled to work in mines for extracting Mica from the ground.
Most of these mines are in Bihar and Jharkhand, two most impoverished states of India. The poverty incidents in Jharkhand are over 46-70%. This situation of severe poverty force families to send their children to work in hazardous occupations.
It is estimated that 22,000 children as young as four, work in Mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar and due to the illegal and secretive nature of child labour, the exact numbers are still unknown.
These hazardous environments trigger respiratory illness due to dust exposure, spending hours in the process of digging bare handed and raise the risk of skin infections and the mines also frequently collapse, threatening children’s lives all the time.
The biggest factors of child labour-
Worldwide agriculture is the biggest employer of child labour. Poverty and lack of schools and awareness in remote areas are considered as the primary cause. However, now the situation is changing worldwide. According to the World Bank, the incidents of child labour decreased from 25%to 10% between 1960 and 2003.
UNICEF acknowledged an estimate 168 million children aged 5-17 all over the world were involved in child labour in 2013.
The situation in India-
The problem of child labour is not new to India . As reported by UNICEF, there has been a 54% increase in child labour aged 5-14. According to a campaign against Child Labour Study, India has approximately 12,666,377 child labourers. UP and northern India has 19,27,997 child labourers.
The prevention of the ‘Malady’-
Article 24 of the Indian Constitution deals with the matters related to Child Labour and to bring it on the lowest. It clearly states that, ‘No child under the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or employed in any hazardous employment’.