Increasing Child Labour in 2020 - An after effect of Lockdown
Child labour has been one of the basic concern of Indian lawmakers since the independence of India and they have added various provisions in the constitution to stop child labour. But with the advent of Coronavirus, experts are expecting an increase in child labour to support their family. The daily wage earners have also been affected very negatively in this lockdown.
With the lockdown in force around 120 million jobs are at risk of loss as per the CMIE. These job losses and intend to earn and live, children may go around and find jobs for their family and might fall in the trap of child labour. United Nations also issued a warning for the nations to be on the lookout to keep a check on the fear of increasing child labour.
The term “Child Labour” is often defined as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally challenged and harmful to children; and/or interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. As per Indian Laws, a child is someone who has not completed the age of 14. Indian laws exclude the following from Child Labour (a) helping their family or family enterprise (non-hazardous) after school hours (b) working as an artist in the audio-visual entertainment industry, sports except circus.
Even before lockdown, there has been a sharp increase in crimes against children, where around 44.2% was related to the abduction as per the latest NCRB data available. In 2018, a total of 1,15,656 children went missing, including the 48,522 of 2017, as per the trafficking data of NCRB. A huge proportion of such children are either forced into child labour or are sold in prostitution.
Insensitivity among people regarding child labour is another big issue, as regular sights of various ‘chhotus’ at ‘dhabas’ who continue to be abused and sometimes beaten for doing minute or almost no mistakes. Children begging on-road and at traffic lights shows how dark the future of the whole country is.
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Worldwide, around 218 million children between 5 to 17 years of age are in employment, out of which, 152 million are the victims of child labour and around 73 million work in hazardous child labour. On the world scale, child labour is most prevalent in African countries, where almost 63 million children are forced into child labour. There is also a huge gender disparity in child labour, where almost 88 million are male and 64 million are female. Almost 74 million children forced in child labour are between 5 to 11 years of age. Boys appear to face a greater risk of child labour than girls as per ILO (International Labour Organization).
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Failure of administration and security agencies in keeping a check on child trafficking and proper implementation of various acts introduced to empower the children is going to cost a million children their future and to some even life. With one of the very famous cases, where a minor girl child from Jharkhand was rescued in Delhi, where she was kept in the house for days without adequate amounts of food and water, while the family was out on vacation. When she was rescued, there were also various marks on her body indicating that the child was beaten.
Even though the government is looking out for the migrant workers fiercely, they must also look out for the children. With the increase in unemployment, there are chances of increasing crime rates and the most affected of any crimes are children.