India Intelligence Report

 

 

   Child Labor Targets Missed, Enforcement Tightened

  Karnataka, home to India’s Silicon Valley, has said that it will most likely miss child labor targets but has promised that the new federal law  aiming to curtail this inhuman practice will be enforced strictly and more vigor.
 

 

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Karnataka, home to India’s Silicon Valley, has said that it will most likely miss child labor targets but has promised that the new federal law aiming to curtail this inhuman practice will be enforced strictly and more vigor. Under the new amendments to the federal law, the Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Act, 1986, children below 14 may not be employed to do household chores, medial and odd jobs at roadside restaurants, resorts, spas, and other entertainment centers. However, child rights activists have criticized this law as it does not provide for rehabilitation of existing child laborers nor does it address fundamental reasons behind this curse.

Karnataka’s Deputy Commissioner for rehabilitation of child labourers says that the state will enforce regulations to the letter which includes a fine of Rs. 10,000 (USD 217) besides criminal punishment. Further, the guilty will also pay an additional fine of Rs. 20,000 to a corpus that covers the welfare of the child laborers.

While national anti-child labor activists have criticized this law, local ones have welcomed them. Former coordinator of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) and current International Labor Organization (ILO) representative Baburaj was quoted saying that the law itself is because of a “sustained campaign to include domestic labor and the hotel industry” and that this is “a major achievement for the child rights movement.”

The new federal law lists 13 sectors in the list of hazardous industries but there are no reliable data about the number of child laborers working as domestic help. However, a recent survey in Mysore gave an indication of how prevalent domestic child labor really is. Covering 100 houses in high income areas, the survey found 25% of the homes employing children under 14 and 90% of them were girls. Domestically employed children are routinely harassed, physically and sexually tortured, and an occasionally killed. Domestic help does not include children employed in agriculture.

While the law itself is well-intentioned and is an essential step, it must be followed through with a series of steps that rehabilitates these children by providing them safe homes, skills, and counseling. In addition, serious implementation of poverty alleviation programs in rural and tribal areas is required to stem the supply of children for these jobs.

Child Labor News Analysis