OPINION: Prevalence of child labour- A slap on the conscience of society
Author(s): Deepbharat MehtaChildhood is the time to garner the best physical, intellectual and emotional capacity to fulfill this duty towards the nation and to one's own self. However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled by the...
Childhood is the time to garner the best physical, intellectual and emotional capacity to fulfill this duty towards the nation and to one's own self. However, this simple rule of nature has been crippled by the ever-growing menace of child labour. If one conceives the idea of child labour, it brings before the eyes the picture of exploitation of little, physically tender, illiterate and under-nourished children working in hazardous and unhealthy conditions.
Children range from four-years-old doing petty jobs to seventeen years olds helping the family farms. Denied education and a normal childhood, some children, confined and beaten, are often reduced to slavery. At times they are denied freedom of movement - the right to leave the workplace and visit their families. Some are abducted and forced to work. Instances of human rights abuses in such practices are clear and acute.
Child agricultural workers frequently work for long hours in the heat, haul heavy loads of grains, are exposed to toxic pesticides, and suffer high rates of injury from sharp, dangerous tools. Children working in factories often work near hot furnaces, handle hazardous chemicals like arsenic and potassium, work in glass blowing units where the work harms their lungs, damages their eyes and causes disease like tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis. Some are injured in fire accidents. mostly girls, work for long hours for little or no pay. They are subjected to verbal and physical abuse, at times even sexual abuse. Millions of children are involved in work that, under any circumstances, is considered unacceptable for children, including the sale and trafficking of children into debt bondage, serfdom, and forced labour. It includes the forced recruitment of children for armed conflict, commercial sexual exploitation, and other illicit activities, such as drug trafficking.
The prevalence of child labour is a slap on the conscience of society. It harms not only the present generation but also the posterity. The origin of the problem of child labour can be traced to some complex social vices illiteracy, poverty, inequality, failure of social welfare schemes, population explosion, etc. The government says that it is not easy to completely end child labour. it, therefore, has only tried to improve their working conditions--reducing working hours, ensuring minimum wages and providing facilities for health and education. It can be said that the government measures have three main components legal action focusing on general welfare, development programmes for child workers and their families, and a project-based action plan.
The problem of child labour must be recognized as a human rights problem, both directly and indirectly . compulsory labour that results in denial of the right to education. It embraces not only "the rights of the child" per se, but also the broad panoply of entitlements across the whole spectrum of rights through which, at least civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. The policymakers as also the ordinary citizens must understand that the future of children would not be secured unless their rights are clearly identified, redefined and restored. Seen from this perspective, it becomes a mandatory duty of all governments across the world to take all possible steps to put and end to the problem of child labour once and for all.
Today children will constitute the backbone of tomorrow's society. Hence, it is the obligation of every generation to bring up children, who will be citizens of tomorrow, in a proper way.