Child labour is the practice that engages the child in economic activity. This practice deprives the child of their childhood and causes harm to the physical and mental development. Child Labor can be seen as both a social and economic problem.
The causes of child labour are not limited to one or two; the causes are unlimited. Also, the problem does not get restricted to any one country; the problem persists in almost every country worldwide.
Definition of child labour
The employment of a child in any sort of industry or household activity is known as child labour. The ‘Child‘ as defined by the Child And Adolescent (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, has not attained the age of 14 years of age.
As defined by the International Labour Organisation, Child Labour means work that affects childhood and does not let the child attend school to have proper, thus depriving them of education. It also deprives children of childhood. According to the International Labour Organization, a child who works below the age of 14 does not develop socially, physically or morally.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the child gets considered to be labour when:
- The age of the child is between 5 to 11 years of age. At least he has worked for 1 hour of economic activity or has worked for at least 28 hours in a week doing the household activity.
- When the child’s age is between 12 to 14 years, he should have worked for 14 hours of economic activity or 42 house of household work in a week, to be considered child labour.
Child labour issue
Child Labour is an issue present in every part of the world; the extent of such labour may vary. Causes of Child Labour destroys the lives of children both mentally and physically. The leading cause of child labour seems to be poverty. Child labour is a social problem as the country’s future are the children.
Many laws got enacted but are inefficient to curb the problem of child labour. The statistical report published in 2017 has shown that India is one such country in Asia where the number of Children who work is quite large. It showed that almost 33 million children got employed as labour in India.
Causes of child labour
The causes of child labour can be many, and some of them are as follows:
Poverty is one of the primary reasons for child labour and is also a major cause of social issues. In India, a child is seen as a helping hand for the parents, especially when it comes to poverty. The child usually is sent to work to support the family. In developing countries, it is impossible to control child labour unemployment in such is very high, making it necessary for a child to move out of the house and earn a living.
- Previous Debts:
Generally, people take loans from local money lenders at high-interest rates due to poverty. Thus, people work day and night and make their children work to pay back such an amount to pay off such loans.
- Professional Needs:
There are industries where the work is such that the rough hands of adults cannot perform it. Thus, they prefer children who can work for them and employ them as child labour in the industry. Also, the child can get employed at comparatively lower wages than an adult. So, the tendency in Industries is that the child is employed to cut the cost of production and increase the profit.
- Bonded Labour:
It is a practice where an employer gives high-interest loans to the workers employed at low wages to pay off debt. As defined by the Supreme Court of India, it gets interpreted as the payment of wages less than the prevailing market wages and legal minimum wages. Bonded Labour is where the peasants from economically disadvantaged communities get forced to work for their landlords. Even after several laws that ban such slavery, bonded labour is one of the country’s significant causes of child labour.
- Domestic Help:
Educated, wealthy families often employ children for doing their household work. The parents sent their child to work for rich people, feeling that their child would live a better life and earn wages. The rich families keep such children at their homes to take care of their home, do the household chores and manage their children.
- Child Sex Workers:
Children, especially girls, are forced to work as prostitutes after they attain the age of puberty. The tendency is such that the employer promises the parents of the girl child and the girl to give her a glamorous job that will help her earn a high income.
- Forced Begging:
Families who cannot afford their living send their children to beg on the roads and earn their living. Parents even cut the body part of their child to gain the public’s sympathy so that they can earn more while begging.
- Child Trafficking:
Children are often purchased or sold for sexual exploitation.
Consequences of child labour in India
Child labour is one such social evil that causes much other evil in society. A child who works as labour in any industry faces many issues as an adult. Such children are more prone to diseases at a very young age and suffer throughout their lives. General Injury that a child’s face includes cut, fractures, burns etc. but such injuries can be more vital at the later stage of their life and cause dangerous diseases.
Due to child labour, a child gets deprived of basic facilities in early childhood. Sometimes, they do not even get proper food, clothing, or medical treatment. While working at the early stage of child growth, they are prone to physical abuse that includes beating, which may lead to physical deformity due to child labour.
Child labour also affects the country’s economic welfare to a great extent. Also, child labour deprives a child of education, which decreases the country’s educated workforce and skilled workers, which will cause significant loss in the long run.
Child labour laws in India
Child labour is one of the major social disasters in India. The Government of India enacted various laws to overcome the cause of child labour and prevent a child from being exploited. The laws are as follows;
- The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
- The Plantation Labour Act, 1951
- The Mines Act, 1952
- The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
- The Indian Factories Act, 1948
- The Child and Adolescent (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
- Children (Pledging of Labour)Act, 1933
- Beedi And Cigar Workers (Condition and Regulation) Act, 1986
The above mentioned are just some of the acts that provide conditions for labour and protect the rights of children and adult labourers working in the industry. Other than this legislation, even the Constitution of India prohibits child labour. The constitutional provision that protects the rights of the child are:
- Article 21: This article deals with the Right to Life and Personal Liberty.
- Article 21A: This article provides The Right to Education.
- Article 24: This article prohibits children (below the age of 14) from getting employed in factories, etc
Child Labour is one of the social evils in the nation. The government of India takes various measures to curb the causes of child labour. But to solve the issue of child labour, the major causes of child labour is to be solved. These problems cannot get sorted unless the society and government take collective measures to cure such issues in the country. A child belongs to the school, not the workplace. It should be in the mind of every individual in the country. If every individual keeps aside their benefit of appointing a child as a worker in the industry in their home, then it would become easy to cure this social evil present in the country.
FAQs related to child labour
What is child labour?
Child Labour is the exploitation of the child by making them work in industry, household, or other activities that deprive them of their childhood.
What are the major causes of child labour?
The major cause of child labour are:
- Child trafficking
- Sexual activities
- Forced labour
Who is a Child?
A child can be any person below the age of 14 years.
Measures to stop child labour in India?
Following measures can be taken to prevent child labour in India:
- Spread Awareness
- Strict laws that provide severe punishment for employing children as labour.
- Encouraging a child to study
- Supporting NGOs that save children from being exploited.