India Intelligence Report

   End of Child Labor in Sight


The International Labor Organization (ILO) said that the number of child laborers world over fell by 11% from 246 million in 2000 to 218 million in 2004 leading it predict that "the end of child labor is within our reach." These encouraging figures prompted ILO Chief Juan Somavia said that the worst forms of child exploitation such as pornography, prostitution, and debt bondage can be ended in a decade.

After years of denial, sustained pressure from the National Human Rights Council forced the Government to finally start accepting that there are child laborers in the country. India has very large number of child laborers estimated at 126 million in the 5-17 age groups. The National Child Labor Project launched by the nation in 2000 has yielded spectacular results.

The estimated number of child laborers has fallen by 26% from 171 million just 4 years ago. Entire industries such as match making, carpet weaving, and to some extent firecrackers have rid themselves of the stigma of employing children.

The ILO estimates that 50 million children are trapped in the worst forms of child labor. This is area where the Government needs to focus on. Child sex tourism has rocketed and hordes of lecherous men from Europe, Canada, and the US have been taking advantage of weak implementation of laws in India to abuse children (boys and girls) in Goa, Madurai, Salem, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, New Delhi, and the North-East

Another trend is for child abusers to create shelters for street, runaway, and destitute children often with the compliance of an Indian manager. In a recent case, two Britons and their local manager were booked for

child abuse. In this case, the two Britons skipped the country to set up a similar operation in Africa and later escaped to the United Kingdom. In a remarkable multi-national effort, the two criminals were deported to India.

However, Indian laws are too lenient on rapists and child molesters often letting them off with a sentence of less than 7 years and small fines. This is an area that needs serious reform. 

-- Mechanisms must be widely instituted to verify claims of rape, illicit sex, or abuse such as semen analysis, clinical examination, etc.
-- DNA analysis must be extensively used to ascertain the veracity of the claim
-- Pending test results, the accused have to be placed in judicial custody so they do not escape justice
-- Once a link is established, strong measures such as non-bailable warrants as recommended by Maharashtra regardless of nationality, sex, or age must be created. Often, foreigners use their foreign office or missions in India to extract a concession. Others use the claim of a heart attack to escape the harshness of an Indian jail.
-- Cases must be fast tracked and punishments must be excruciating with limited chances of appeal to ensure that such criminals do not make India their home. Death penalty laws for drug users and carriers in South East Asian nations have essentially kept drugs out of many of their societies.