Srinagar, June 12: Despite many laws enacted, Child Labour is still on a constant rise in Jammu and Kashmir besides whole country as hundreds of children every year continue to be exploited for cheap labour affecting their physical, mental, social as well as educational development.
There are an estimated 2.5 lakh children in child labour in J&K of which many are in hazardous work mostly working as conductors, domestic helpers, these children are now at even greater risk of facing circumstances that are even more difficult and working longer hours, as per the recent study conducted by Professor Fayaz Ahmad, registrar at Central University of Kashmir.
“We lost our father two years before, and then I left my studies, as I am the elder one and to meet our basic requirements me and my mother work as maids in house who pay us monthly and also provide us food and clothes sometimes,” Rifat Bashir (12) working as a maid told Kashmir News Bureau
“I have one more sister in my family If the government had provided us some support I would have continued my studies, but alas it doesn’t happen and both me and my sister are without education, as we don’t earn enough to get admission in some school.” she said
While the government has enacted a number of laws to protect the children from such hazardous acts, many laws are being constantly exploited and misused to get children involved in such chores without even being noticed.
The Child and Adolescent Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986 reads as “A Child is defined as any person below the age of 14 and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a child in any employment sector including as a domestic help except helping own family in non-hazardous occupations,” is often misused where children of below 14 age group get trapped in the vicious cycle of oppression and work as labourers as that of conductors, maids, waiters, dish cleaners and many more.
Unable to straddle both school and work, these children are forced to give up their education and thus many such children are hence deprived of education, a prosperous life even their basic freedom where such children grow up as labourers.
According to a study by the ILO, the majority of the world’s child labour (around 71 percent) is done in the agriculture sector, including cotton plantations and rice fields. Around 17 percent are employed as service staff, mainly as domestic workers or in restaurants, and another 12 percent of child labour is spread across jobs in the industry sector, including dangerous activities in mines.
Pertinently, every year June 12 is observed as World Day against Child Labour, World Day Against Child Labour 2020 focuses on the impact of crisis on child labour a joint ILO-UNICEF paper entitled “COVID-19 and child labour: A time of crisis, a time to act” has been released. The paper looks at some of the main ways through which the pandemic is likely to affect progress towards the eradication of child labour.
While talking to Kashmir News Bureau, Muzamil Maqbool Host of podcast Plain Talk with MMB said, “In 2015, United Nations created UNSDG’S also known as global goals to achieve 17 goals by 2030. It was adopted by all member states of UN. But all these goals became clear when UN started targets for sustainable development. Target 8.7 of unsdg plans to stop all forms of child labour by 2025. We only have 5 years and it is now on all of us to help UN and their associated bodies and various local and international ngos. Wherever we see any child under labour working in any hazardous conditions, we must report it to the local child protection officer.”
He further added,” In Kashmir, hiring domestic help from UP and bihar is common and sometimes due to poverty, many parents send their children to kashmir. We happily accept it and let them work here. The question we all must ask is, Are we doing the right thing by hiring a child as domestic help? Without support from citizens, society and youth in particular, no world body will achieve this goal. Let’s pledge to end child labour once for all.
Meanwhile, a Jammu and Kashmir Based NGO (Society for Social Transformation) has come front to reduce the percentage of child labourers by appealing people to donate for them.