Through the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, the Government warned of prosecution and penal action for the employment of children but child labor activists criticize the legislation as inadequate that could drive children to worse situations. Currently, millions of children are employed as domestic servants or workers, helpers in roadside dhabhas, restaurants, hotels, motels, teashops, resorts, spas, and other recreational centers. Activists say that the bill does not say what the unemployed children will do from October 10, the date of enforcement, and fear that these children may be forced into prostitution and clandestine enslavement.
A Technical Advisory Committee on Child Labour had recommended that these measures, so far limited only to Government employees, be extended to the whole nation. The panel found that these children are physically abused, suffer psychological trauma, and even sexually abuse but are invariably unreported and unnoticed as they take place in the closed areas not open to outside scrutiny. Furthermore, these children are made to work extraordinarily long hours and perform hazardous activities. The Government says that the children working in roadside dhabhas are the most vulnerable to sexual predators, drug abuse, and other life-changing illegal activities.
Responding to criticisms, the Labour Ministry is planning to strengthen its rehabilitation scheme under the National Child Labour Project that currently covers 250 child labor endemic districts.