The worst thing we can do to a person is taking away the innocence while he/she is in the most crucial and immature stage of his/her life. Child labor is the process of engaging children in economic activities and industrial sectors. It can be done in many ways such as employment of a child in coal mining industries, iron ore industries, as domestic help, etc.
Child labor is one of the ways of exploitation of a child. Some other ways are child trafficking, sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, etc. In all how a child is exploited, it will lead to physical and mental torture not only for the period in which he/she is ill-treated but for entire life.
For the protection of children from child labor, The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 has been created. As per the Act, “Child” is defined as any person below the age of 14. This Act prohibits the employment of a child in any employment including domestic help.
Children between the age of 14 and 18 are defined as “Adolescent” and the law allows Adolescent to be employed, except in the listed hazardous occupation and processes, which include mining, inflammable substance, and explosives-related work and any other hazardous process as per the Factories Act, 1948.
Poverty leads to child labour.. Money has the power to make one do things which one does not want to do otherwise. Parents don’t have the money to fulfill even the basic needs of their children. So, they make them do any sort of work which will give them money, even though such activity is harmful.
The Constitution of India also has the provision of the prohibition of employment of children in factories under Article 24.
The large effect of child labor is borne by the female child. They have to undergo sex slavery and sexual abuse more as compared to a male child. Child Labor effects on the education of the children since they have to leave their school and work for catering for the expenditure of the family.
Bonded labor is one of the forms of child labor which is mentioned in the Act, where parents are forced to agree with the creditor and the child performs work as in-kind repayment of credit. This is the source of income for some parents. As in rural areas we see, the number of children per family is more than the number of adults, therefore parents sell their children and, in that way parents get rid of the child also because he stays with the creditor and also the debt is paid off.
In some cases, child labor is extensive, which tortures the child and remains with him as disheartening memory. E.g. in fireworks, matches and incense industry, the trauma which the child has to go through is very intense and is more severe than that of the physical wounds. A child can come out of the situation physically, but mentally that set of circumstances will remain with him forever.
Penalties mentioned for the non-fulfillment of the provisions of the Act are:
- For employing any child in contravention of the provisions of the act – imprisonment for not less than 3 months extending to 1 year or with fine, not less than Rs. 10000 which may extend up to Rs. 20000, or both.
- For the second offense of similar nature – imprisonment for not less than 6 months which may extend to 2 years.
- Failure to maintain a register – simple imprisonment which may extend up to 1 month or with fine which may extend up to Rs. 10000, or both.
- Laws in India, such as the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2000 and The Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act-1986 provide a basis in law to identify, prosecute and stop child labor in India.
One can mold a child in any circumstances and situations. The manufacturers hire them on very cheap rates. Even children don’t complain about bad facilities and working conditions.
To eradicate this, we can help society by sponsoring a child’s education. We can provide educational facilities to the child of our domestic servants and give them rewards for their achievements. We can help the children by taking them out of the situation of distress.
All of us owe some social responsibilities which need to be fulfilled by us at all costs. Children are the future of our society and we should help in their development. The development of a child is the development of society at large.