“Worldwide, millions of children are forced into unpaid or paid work that deprives them of an education, a happy childhood and a prosperous future” (SOS Children’s Village Canada, 2019).
Living in a first world country, it often easy to forget how privileged we are as children to be able to have an education and to not have to enter the workforce until later on in our teenage years. This although is not the reality of all children around the world. A study by the International Labour Organisation revealed that “over 12.9 million children in India between 7-17 years old, 5.1 per cent of the total, are in employment, primarily working in agriculture and unpaid family work” (Khan, S & Lyon, S 2015). In India children often enter the workforce at an early age to be able to help provide for their families, which often leads to them not being able to receive an education.
UNICEF highlights that the main factors that lead to child labour in India include:
- Low socio-economic status
- Lack of education by parents
- Lack of awareness
- Adult unemployment
- Societal norms and traditions
- Conflict/Natural Disasters
Child labour often leads to a myriad of other problems for children in India. Children are often not able to receive an education as a result of child labour which can create a poverty cycle. “Children are often employed because they are cheap and pliable to the demands of the employer and not aware of their rights” (UNICEF, 2019). Children are often unaware of their basic human rights when they are undergoing paid employment, and the conditions that are suitable to be working in. This in effect normalises the situation and will often mean that children will not speak up about their poor working conditions.
In India there are laws put in place to help protect child labour, but they are not always effective. In 2016 new laws “against child labour were tightened to ensure that children under the age of 14 were prohibited from working as domestic help or service staff in restaurants and hotels” (SOS Children’s Village Canada, 2019). The laws however are not inclusive of all areas of child labour, which means that the issue is still prevalent within India. Children are subject to harsh and inhumane working conditions that often stem across several generations.
In order for child labour to be eradicated, vital reform needs to be made within the Indian government. New laws that apply to all facets of child labour is fundamental so that employers are not able to take advantage of children living in poverty. The importance of education is also crucial in eliminating child labour as it can help break the poverty cycle, and educate children about proper working conditions. To do this, systematic changes need to be made within India to emphasises the importance of education and its value in creating social justice.
- SOS Children’s Village Canada. (2019). Child Labour in India. [online] Available at: https://www.soschildrensvillages.ca/news/child-labour-in-india-588 [Accessed 14 May 2019].
- Khan, S. and Lyon, S. (2015). Measuring Children’s Work in South Asia. [online] International Labour Organisation. Available at: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—asia/—ro-bangkok/—sro-new_delhi/documents/publication/wcms_359371.pdf [Accessed 14 May 2019].
- (2019). Child Labour | UNICEF. [online] Available at: http://unicef.in/Whatwedo/21/Child-Labour [Accessed 14 May 2019].