Monday, October 09, 2006

India bans child labour from Tuesday

Here is some good news to cheer about.

India, home to the largest number of child labourers in the world, has banned children under the age of 14 from working as domestic servants or at hotels, tea shops, restaurants and resorts.

The labour ministry said the ban would come into effect from October 10 and those violating it could face a jail term up to two years and a maximum fine of 20,000 rupees ($430).

The child labour estimates today are alarming, ranging from about 12 million children according to government sources, to about 100 million children according to NGOs and other sources.

The situation of these children violates the fundamental right to education, right to childhood and equal opportunity to participate as equal citizens.

This recent ban precedes a previous law that banned children working in some industries from 1986. The current ban extends to include homes and in hotels/restuarants teashops, resorts, spas or other recreational centres which were not included earlier.

India has laws to protect children from being exploited, but they remain ineffective in many areas.

In some cases poverty forces parents to push children out to fend for themselves, while in other cases unscrupulous employers or their agents use children as cheap labour.

It will be a tough call to free the children from employment if their families have no viable alternative source of income. Therefore, reducing poverty is an important aspect that requires immediate attention in order that the children can be given their rights.

The problem of child labour is not going to go away by mere cosmetic changes. Campaigns will need to be run to create public understanding and the laws will have to enforced without fear or favour.

Technorati tags: India, child labour, human rights

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