‘53 per cent increase in child labour’

Article Source :The Hindu

Date of Issue :26th June, 2015

Title of Article :‘53 per cent increase in child labour’

Details :At a time when Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has supported the controversial amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act which allows children under 14 years of age to work in family-run enterprises, a recently-concluded analysis by Child Rights and You (CRY) revealed that there has been a significant increase in working children in the age group of 5-9 years.

Compiling data from the 2001 and 2011 census, the report states that in urban areas while the number of working girls rose by 240 per cent, it increased by 154 per cent for working boys. Overall, there has been a 53 per cent increase in child labour in urban India, while there is a drop of about 29 per cent in rural areas.

“Society is largely to blame for the increase in working children in urban areas as most of the children work as domestic helps. In rural areas, while many children assist their parents in farm lands, the real estate boom is forcing many children to work at brick kilns,” chairperson of the West Bengal State Commission of Protection of Child Rights Ashokendu Sengupta told The Hindu .

“This increase in urban child labour could be attributed to increased migration, including seasonal migration for employment as well as trafficking of unaccompanied minors,” director, policy and research, CRY, Komal Ganotra said.

According to the report, although there has been a 25.93 per cent increase in the number of working children aged 10-14 years in urban India — from 13,78,663 in 2011 to 10,94,770 in 2001 — it fell by 36.06 per cent for the same category of children in the rural India — from 62,16,362 in 2011 to 97,21,927 in 2001.

Stating that the amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act had “large gaps”, Mr. Sengupta said these gaps need to be addressed.

“The Act states that children may work after school hours and during holidays. There are no defined school hours, and holiday seasons in school are not uniform and differ from district to district, at least in Bengal. Merely making an Act will not help abolish child labour. The administration needs to ensure its proper implementation,” he added.

According to the study, more than half of the working children are concentrated in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and account for more than 55 lakh child workers.

“Out of these States, only Uttar Pradesh has witnessed a growth in child labour by 13 per cent, with one out of five child labourers in India belonging to the State. There has been a negligible decrease in Bihar and Maharashtra, whereas Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have achieved substantial reduction in working children by almost a third,” the report stated.

Although West Bengal features at the seventh spot in the top 10 States with high rates of child labour, there is a shocking 337 per cent increase in the number of marginal girl children (aged 5-9 years) in urban areas out of 5,50,092 children.

“It is common to see girls dropping out of schools after primary school. Lack of access to higher education and separate toilets, gender bias and early marriage are some of the reasons why girls don’t finish their education and start working,” CRY senior manager, media advocacy (east), Abhik Bhattacharya told The Hindu.

Barring Kolkata, there is a high concentration of child labour in the districts of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Bardhaman and Paschim Medinipur, the report revealed.