An expert consultation to review the CLPRA amendment bill 2012 marks the launch of CRY’s Click Rights- Open Your Eyes Campaign

New Delhi, 11th June, 2014: India has 12.6 million child labours in the age group of 5 to 14 as per the National Census 2001, it is yet to commit itself to complete elimination of child labour.

The election manifesto of the incoming government’s party states its commitment to “Review, amend and strengthen the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2012”.

It is in this context that CRY, in partnership with Philips LED TV, brings together youth, child rights practitioners and experts, eminent photographers, children and public at large for a two month long campaign “Click Rights – Open Your Eyes”.

This campaign aims to map the impact of child labour legislation and recommend changes. An expert consultation to build upon the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee marked the launch of this campaign.

Experts of the subject Prof. Shantha Sinha, University of Hyderabad, Prof. Babu Mathew, National Law University, Delhi, Shireen Khan, ILO, Delhi, Ms. Vandana Khandari, UNICEF, Delhi and ex-chairperson CWC Bharti Sharma, participated in this national consultation to discuss a way forward to the CLPRA amendment bill 2012 and share their valuable insight. Various concerns like path to progressive elimination of child labour, policy implications of having multiple definitions of age of the child across various labour laws and social legislations, measures of rehabilitation of rescued child labourers, hazardous and non hazardous work/processes, was raised in the consultation.

“The New Government’s mantra of ‘less government and more governance’ is seen as the underlying philosophy that could drive merger of some departments and ministries to create more focused outfits. On similar ground we would like to demand that everything related to children also needs greater coordination.” said Babu Methew of National Law University.

He also opined that the gravity of this issue is also connected to the convenience of interest groups. Various policies and acts are also drafted keeping in mind the targeted employment criteria of that sector. While the social legislations define a child to be 18 years, most labour legislations define it as 14. There is a clear contradiction in the way we see our children, ready to compromise when they can be a source of cheap labour. Government committed to compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6 to 14 in 2010.

Which means no child in this age group should be at work; but unfortunately our child labour legislation still allows children to work in non hazardous and family based occupations. The amendment was initiated in 2012 but because the bill could not address many relevant concerns therefore it was sent back to the government for consideration. Hence the 1986 act continues to be in force. There is an urgency of response on the issue of amendment which was raised and reiterated in the consultation. Shanta Sinha, former chairperson of NCPCR, appreciated the remarkable gain of extension of age to 18 years and linkage of child labour Act with RTE act, “Once the act is linked, all provisions, aspects of RTE act will get covered under this. There has to be universalization of secondary level education with focus on infrastructure for quality education can play an important role in eliminating child labour.”

“Why can’t children’s rights and issues be looked at separately? Children’s issues and their needs should be showcased as a separate constituency. We would want that children of this country are considered separately in their capacity as individual persons and not just in terms of their entitlements with respect to aspects such as education, health and skill development.”

“The issue of child labour cannot be seen in isolation. It is integral to the concerns of child protection, education and social security. While each ministry has its own mandate; it is imperative for different ministries to institutionalize mechanisms of working together to address multiple issues that result in child labour”, said Komal Ganotra, Director, Policy and Research, CRY (Child Rights and You).”Government of India must fulfill its national and international obligations towards children and as a nation we must develop a zero tolerance towards violation of child rights.” She further added.

CRY believes that a holistic vision is needed for our upcoming generations, their aspirations, their expectations, and their real concerns. Children need to be viewed not just as beneficiaries of specific schemes, or falling within the purview of specific ministries, but as living entities that are affected by steps, big and small, taken or not taken by various state functionaries, departments, and ministries. Of course their needs ought to be reflected in our plans for services like education, and health, but much beyond that, somewhere, how are we ensuring that we are investing in citizens of tomorrow.

Over the next two months CRY would hold photo-exhibitions showcasing photographs clicked by child labourers and eminent photographers, across 5 cities. They would also initiate a public interface asking people to share their ideas on eliminating child labour, if they were the Prime Minister.

Key Recommendations for the CLPRA Amendment bill 2012

  • Harmonizing the age of children across various social and labour legislations
  • Legislation should not divide children into child and adolescent as both are equally vulnerable
  • Using the criteria of Factories Act to define hazardous occupations is unacceptable
  • Monitoring and accountability should be clearly spelt out in the act for its enforcement
  • Clarity of role, accountability and convergence among stakeholders in rescue of child labour
  • Institutionalize rehabilitation through clarity of procedure at district, state and inter-state level
  • Develop explicit linkage of child labour legislation with juvenile justice, trafficking and integrated child protection scheme

About CRY
CRY – Child Rights and You (formerly known as Child Relief and You) is an Indian NGO that believes in every child’s right to a childhood – to live, to learn, grow and play. For over 30 years, CRY and its partners have worked with parents and communities to ensure Lasting Change in the lives of more than 20 Lakh underprivileged children. For more information please visit us at www.cry.org

For further information, please contact: CRY : Nupur Kaul, +91 9958358883,nupur.kaul@crymail.org