Childhood should be a time to grow, learn, play and thrive in a safe environment. But an estimated 10 million children around the world don’t have that chance. They are forced to work into begging, selling drugs, work in the factories, quarries or brick kilns, and sold into sexual slavery amongst many others forms of labour.
The pandemic has deepened the root causes of child labour. Children all over the world are falling through the cracks, evidenced by a spate of disturbing reports of school children reverting to child labour, increases in child marriage, trafficking, domestic violence and a sharpening digital divide in education.
Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward report warns that global progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety and morals – has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016.
In India, there are 10.1 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old engaged in some work, of which 5.6 million are boys and 4.5 million are girls. It is driven by various factors such as extreme poverty, lack of opportunities, societal discrimination and inadequate social protection measures.
Child trafficking is strongly linked to child labour. Thousands of children are missing from India’s remote villages as human traffickers respond to a surge in demand for cheap labour and influx in sex tourism and child pornography – often children end up working as domestic help for wealthy families in urban areas or sold into brothels, and forced to commit commercial sex acts. It does not deprive children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, it exposes them to abuse and exploitation, and harmful to their physical and mental development.
END CHILD CHILD LABOUR 2021
12 June, World Day against Child Labour 2021 is an international day to raise awareness and prompt actions to end all forms of child labour. We can end all forms of child labour if we accelerate our efforts together at all levels – individuals, organisations and governments.
We have legal frameworks in India that prohibit child labour – a child engaged in work under the age of 14. But it needs to be further tightened and more strictly enforced. The government also need to take measures to address the root causes of child labour and ensure that all children attend school to find decent work in their adulthood.
OUR ACTIONS TO END CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA
My Choices Foundation fights for all children across India. We work actively with children, communities, villages and grassroots organisations in the remotest part of the country to tackle child labour – from educating communities to helping child survivors of domestic violence get back on track and equipping our implementing partners to sustain the momentum and prevent children from being trafficked and forced into labour.
Vivian Isaac, Programme Director of Operation Red Alert, the anti-trafficking arm of My Choices Foundation talks about our efforts to end child labour.
YOU CAN GET ACTIVE AGAINST CHILD LABOUR
There are choices that all of us can make to improve the living conditions for children and facilitate an end to the abuse and exploitation of children. As an individual, you can:
- Educate yourself about child labour, its problems and related laws
- Spread awareness in your community – you can share this blog on your social networking sites
- Be conscious of the products you buy and avoid buying from businesses that employ children
- Be vigilant and report abuse – you can call our helpline 1800 419 8588 to report it. All calls are confidential.
- Volunteer your time – you can volunteer your time with NGOs like My Choices Foundation
- Donate to make a difference in the lives of children – My Choices Foundation works in eight states across India (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal). You can donate to support our work to end child labour and build safer and healthier communities for children to live and thrive.