One of the most inhumane practices in the modern world, child labor is like using a baby plant for making furniture. It destroys the potentials of a child to achieve greater things in the future.
Children are the quintessence of innocence and nobody should have the right to rob them of it. Unfortunately, it’s happening. It’s happening in its worst form that we call child labor. Children are not meant to be put under harsh conditions of forcible work. Who are these adults who put them go through the terrible deprivation of education and liveliness? They are the ones who themselves were once victims of child labor. They were equally deprived of learning and right to remain innocent. Hence, child labor is not only an outcome but a grave cause of social evils that the world is exposed to.
Definition of Child Labor
International Labor Organization defines child labor in the following words:
Any child less than 17 years of age, engaged in any labor which is detrimental to their physical, moral, social and mental development and hinders their right to education or strips them of the time to focus on their studies is said to be involved in child labor.
No doubt, ILO defined it well but there’s more to it. Practically, in the underdeveloped and developing countries child labor is a very common demonstration so much so that nobody reacts to it anymore. The children are not only made to do tough jobs but they’re isolated from their parents. They’re exposed to dangerous machinery and working conditions that are likely to cause injuries and even death. To mention the worst scenario, most of the children’s parents deliberately get them employed.
Instances of child labor
Most of the products we use are manufactured in small-scale industries. For example shawls, carpets, rugs, sugar, cotton etc. There are children involved in their production. Even on a larger scale, child labor is seen in its worst form where adolescents are made to work full time in return of meager wages where the companies make supernormal profits from the same products.
Working isn’t a bad thing. In the USA, the employment of children is controlled by the Fair Labor Standards where children are engaged in favorable jobs during the period of their education. These standards have fixed the working hours that ensure that children are not deprived of the time they need to spend in studying. Work is healthy as long as it’s not harsh and overly time-consuming. In fact, it develops skill, sense of responsibility and professionalism at a very young age.
In India, around 400,000 children are engaged in the cottonseed industry only. At worst, in Cambodia, about 300,000 children are engaged in prostitution and drug trafficking. Without eradicating these situations, how can any state expect to develop if its youth is not directed to future productivity?
Child labor in its worst form involves children in forcibly participating in armed conflicts. It’s when even the law enforcement agencies can’t come to their rescue.
After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into force, states began to incorporate a ban on child labor in their constitutions. International organizations also regard child labor as a core issue. According to ILO, there are 168 million children engaged in child labor throughout the world, where 85 million of them are those working under extreme conditions. The National Child Labor Elimination Policy is recently implemented by UNICEF. The policy focuses on minimizing the working hours, regulating wages and maintaining favorable working conditions.
Facts about Child Labor
- Recent reports state that more than 200 million children in the world are laborers.
- It's also estimated that more than 120 million of them are engaged in difficult hazardous work.
- Among all the 200 million child laborer, at least 73 million children are below 10 years old.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of child laborers.
- About 300,000 children have been involved in arm conflicts over the past decade.
- 20 million child laborers are employed in factories or workplaces that make carpets, toys, garments, matches, and hand-rolled cigarettes.