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ILO Report

The Constitution

Child Labourers in India

Child Labourers in Bengal

SLARTC & Child Labour

What is Child Labour?

Report of the Director General of ILO, 1983:
Child labour includes children prematurely leading adult lives, working long hours for low wages under conditions damaging to their health and to their physical and mental development, sometimes separated from their families, frequently deprived of meaningful education and training opportunities that could open up for them a better future.

The Constitution of India and Child Labour

It is said that officially there are 18 to 20 million children who are engaged as child labourers in different vocation all over India. Unofficially, this figure goes up to 45 million plus. Though these children are expected to be in schools, They continue to be deprived of the joys of childhood due to their being engaged at their workplaces. 

According to Article 45 of the Constitution of India, the State is to provide free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14. In spite of the fact that this provision was to be implemented within 10 years of the commencement of the Constitution, nearly 50% children remained uneducated.

According to Article 39E of the Constitution, the tender age of children should not be abused and citizens should not be forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and strength. 

Child Labourers in India

Article 39F mentions that children should be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner in conditions of freedom and dignity. It also maintains that childhood and youth should be protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment - yet millions of children are forced to work in Industrial and non-Industrial occupations. These children toil in rural and urban areas at the cost of their childhood.

Their work involves labouring in hazardous and non-hazardous environments in areas as diverse as agriculture, plantations, mines, the slate industry, carpet weaving, handlooms and power looms, zari work, hosiery, match and fireworks factories, the glass industry, pottery, the gemstone industry, making bidis, the lock industry, rag picking, hotels, dhabas and tea stalls, construction, small scale industry, garages, petrol pumps, domestic chores, shoe shining, etc.

Child Labourers in West Bengal

In West Bengal, the situation is no better than in the rest of India. In many towns, one can see child rag pickers very early in the morning or even at dusk, collecting bits and pieces from garbage vats. Thousands of children are engaged in performing domestic chores. A large number of children work in agricultural fields and plantations. Several thousands are engaged in bidi factories, roadside dhabas, tea shops ad fast food centres.

Nearly 40% of the children do not receive an education. Besides, there is a high school drop-out rate. These children end up in various hazardous and non-hazardous occupations with the added responsibility of managing household chores. while their parents are out working Due to the absence of a proper education and vocational training, the future of these children is bleak. The possibility of growth and development is limited and thus these children cannot hope to progress beyond the level of a day labourer.

SLARTC and Child Labour

In the face of this dismal scenario, SLARTC works for child labourers in 5 districts of West Bengal. SLARTC runs 25 NFE centres in these 5 districts. In South 24 Parganas, one of our schools caters to the needs of children who work in factories producing rubber slippers and one can find their nimble fingers getting blackened and thicker every time they cut a rubber strap for the slippers.

Yet these children are so eager to learn and play that they rush to the NFE centres from their workplaces so that they can read and write. They feel the need to be literate and to discard the label of illiteracy. They want to play but there is hardly any time. They sometimes take a day off (without pay) to go to the Zoo of to Science City with their teachers. Apart from seeing the place, they run about, sing and play  during the short duration of this rare day away from work.

These children need their childhood back today as tomorrow will be too late.

Child Trafficking

Child Labour