IndiaCSR News Network
New Delhi: As many children in India gear up to celebrate a day dedicated to them, there are about 10. 1 million children, who will carry on with their daily routines– in factories, dhabas, households, fields and workshops; on Children’s Day. While these children are forced to learn much more than they should at their age, the circumstances force them to be out of school, away from learning what they really should. CRY – Child Rights and You has thus launched a nationwide campaign ‘Project Unlearn’ which aims to pull children out of these circumstances, un-learning these skills that deprives them of their rights and put them back to school.
The campaign will help 28588 children in labour across CRY supported projects in the country to be able to free themselves from shackles of labour, go back to school and be hopeful of a bright future.
Puja Marwaha, CEO, CRY – Child Rights and Yousays, “As shocking as it may seem, India is home to millions of children in labour who are forced to work at an age when they should be in classrooms. With minimum wages, long working hours, suffering abuse and exploitation, these children are deprived of their basic rights. With Project Unlearn we aim to spread awareness about this issue and shake people out of their indifference towards this grim reality that India faces. We are hopeful the people will extend their support to us in ensuring that these children get out of the clutches of child labour and unlearn the skills that rob them of their childhood.”
Child labour can only be eradicated if the root causes that force children to work are addressed. These include poverty, migration of families in search of work, lack of quality education, unemployed parents, etc. CRY, along with its grass-root partners identifies these underlying issues and addresses them by interaction with parents, community leaders, children’s collectives where the importance of child rights, government provisions and the consequences of child labour are discussed. CRY also works on rescue, repatriation and rehabilitation of children trafficked and forced into labour, through child protection networks under Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act and Integrated Child Protection Scheme.
Project Unlearn will also encompass various events and interactive activities across the country. These include innovative installations in major cities, street plays, flash mobs and exhibitions.
Despite ratifying the United Nations Convention the Right of the Child (UNCRC) which led to reservation in article 32, wherein Government of India articulated that it would progressively ban all forms of child labour, India is yet to take concrete steps to tackle the issue.
The first amendment in the CLPR Act to ban on children below 14 from working, was initiated only in 2012 but because the bill could not address many relevant concerns therefore it was sent back to the government for consideration. Hence the 1986 act continues to be in force. There is an urgency of response on the issue of amendment of Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act. The existing Act permits children up to the age of 14 to work in non-hazardous occupations and put no restrictions on work for children from 14 to 18 years of age. While the proposed amendment to this law ensures a blanket ban on children up to the age of 14, it allows children from 14-18 to work in non-hazardous occupations. Even the scope of hazardous occupation in the new proposed bill has been reduced. Many hazardous occupations in the previous bill have now been included in the non hazardous occupation.
Lack of a uniform definition of child in various policies related to children in the country is yet another sign of the lack of government’ will to take up the issue seriously. While the social legislations define a child to be 18 years, most labour legislations define it as 14. There is a clear contradiction in the way we see our children, ready to compromise when they can be a source of cheap labour.