This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gayathri Krishnan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Child Labour In India: More Than 10 Million Children Affected

In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.” – L Frank Brown 

A young girl working in a brick crushing factory in Dhaka. 17.5% of all children aged between 5–15 are engaged in economic activities. The average child labourer earns between 400–700 taka (1 USD = 70 taka) per month.

Have you wondered why a kid was selling flowers on the streets instead of going to school and studying? Many of us have, right? Every child in our society dreams of becoming a doctor, pilot, astronaut, engineer and so on, but at the same time, there are kids in a parallel society who dream of just getting food from time to time or quality education. Isn’t that weird? Yes, but that is the reality of the situation. Children are considered the most vulnerable group because they are innocent and believe whatever you tell them. 

Some parents take advantage of such a situation and get their kids involved in debt bondage, slavery, trafficking, etc. because of unemployment and poverty. Seeing this vulnerability, our government has tried to step up and came up with legislation that might benefit the children. But the main problem is execution. A person is considered to be a child if they are under 18 years of age. That is precisely why a citizen can vote or receive a license or enter into a legal contract when they turn 18 years of age. 

Marriage of a girl under 18 years of age and a boy under 21 years of age is restricted by the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929. Moreover, after ratifying the UNCRC (The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child) in 1992, India changed its law on juvenile justice to ensure that every child, who needs care and protection, is entitled to receive it from the state.  

There are additional rights children have other than Fundamental Rights as a citizen of India:

  • Right to free and compulsory elementary education for children in the 6–14 year age group, given under Article 21 A.
  • Right to be protected from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years, given under Article 24 of Constitution of India.
  • Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength, given under article 39(e) of the Constitution of India.
  • Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation and moral and material abandonment, given under 39(f) of the Constitution of India [1].

There are various other legislations that the government has come up with for the protection of child rights: POCSO (Prevention of Children from Sexual offences, 2012), Juvenile Justice Act (2015) and Child labour prohibition and regulation act (1986). My primary focus will be Child Labour. 

Child labour can be defined as the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful [2].

In 2011, the National Census of India found the total number of child labourers aged 5–14 was 10.1 million out of a total of 259.64 million children. The child labour problem is not unique to India; worldwide, about 217 million children work, many full-time. According to a BBC report, the main reason for child labour is poverty and lack of public educational facilities. It also focuses on how girls are more vulnerable to child labour as compared to boys. 

Another important cause here is debt bondage, also known as bondage labour. It is defined as a system of forced or partly forced labour under which the child or child’s parent agrees, oral or written, with a creditor. 

This is similar to child trafficking or child slave trafficking as it’s related to in-kind favours. Any violence against a child or child labour impacts the child in the long run, not only physically but mentally too. According to a report by the ILO (International Organization Survey), the impact that these might have on the children are:

  • Speech problem
  • Stealing
  • Premature deaths
  • Social and educational development of the child
  • Problematic behaviours develop — aggression, misconduct, substance use, sleep deprivation and related problems — falling asleep in school etc.
  • The unconditional worst forms of child labour are slavery, soldiering, prostitution, drug, trafficking, etc. which may have traumatic effects, including long-term health and socioeconomic effects [3].

There are many International as well as national organizations who are trying to provide these children with education and all the other necessities that are required for a child to live a happy life. 

states with highest number of child labours (In Lakhs) (census 2011)

The COVID-19 crisis has had an immense impact on the BPL (Below Poverty Line) segment of society. It has resulted in a huge number of families starving and has made it hard for them to survive. When survival is questioned, the education of children is secondary. This might increase the number of child labourers, debt bondage etc. There are many NGOs like CRY who have helped these families out even amidst the pandemic. Kudos to these NGOs who are trying to help these families in outlying areas. 

Now you know that life is not hunky-dory and it’s way more complicated and difficult. As was rightly said by William Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, men and women merely players: they have their exits and entrances and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” Let us be the person who plays many parts and contribute our bit for the underprivileged.

References:

  1. Understanding Child Rights
  2. Child Labour 
  3. Impact of Child Labour on the Nutritional Level and Developmental 9-12 Years, Agarwal S
You must be to comment.
  1. ananya iyer

    Love thiss❤❤🙌🏼

More from Gayathri Krishnan

Similar Posts

By Prerana

By Javed Abidi Foundation

By Our Voix

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below