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Atul Patankar

3 years on, child labour ban just on paper

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Atul Patankar

As reported by Manas Pratim Gohain at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 10 October 2009


NEW DELHI: It has been three years since the government banned employment of children through an amendment in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. But the situation on the ground has not improved much, with a recent Unicef report claiming that over 12 million children in India work in hazardous conditions and 1,85,595 children are employed as domestic helps.


On Friday, Campaign Against Child Trafficking and Labour (CACT) launched a fact-finding mission National Social Audit to look into the enforcement of the ban against child labour. "Even after three years of the ban, the situation is alarming. Sources tell us that over 50,000 children work in Delhi's homes and eateries. Therefore a look at the implementation of the ban is necessary. We have already started the auditing process in Delhi and 11 other states,'' said Bharti Ali of CACT.


According to the information revealed by Delhi's department of labour in response to an RTI plea, none of the child labourers working in houses or eateries has been rehabilitated under the Indus project that was launched after the ban on child labourers was notified on October 10, 2006. Though the department had reportedly rescued 128 children 23 from houses and 105 from eateries and dhabas between 2006 and 2008, they were simply sent back to their parents and not rehabilitated. Also, families of only 12 rescued children received compensation in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines. But contrary to the specified procedure, no relative of the child labourers was given job. Instead, six families received Rs 5,000 each while six others got Rs 20,000.


Sources said, the audit would also highlight anomalies in the legal provisions against child labour. "First there is no uniformity in different Acts on the age under which a person is considered a child. Under the Child Labour Act/Factories Act a child is below 14 years, while according to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and the Mines Act 1952 it is 18 years. The Merchant Shipping Act, meanwhile, considers anyone below 15 years of age a child. Even child labour is not defined properly in these acts,'' said Raajmangal Prasad, convener of CACT's Delhi branch and a member of child welfare committee in the capital.


According to CACT, over 3.15 million raids in the country since October 2006 have yielded just 83,000 cases that have gone to the court, a dismal figure that highlights lack of prosecution. Convener of CACL, Ashok Kumar said they would first explore the secondary documents (government reports and efforts) through RTI and then audit the number of children working in dhabas along the highways in the country.


Speaking about the sad state of affairs, member of the child welfare committee in east Delhi Mamta Sahai said: "Between 2006 and 2009, I have handled 430 cases, but I have no idea about the status of prosecution. In most cases we can't do much as the children want to go back to their homes. We don't know how to help them except providing them transportation facility to go back.''


Source: 3 years on, child labour ban just on paper - Delhi - City - The Times of India

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