World Day Against Child Labour, which aims to spread awareness about the illegal employment practice and also talk about the ways to eradicate it completely, will be observed on Saturday by people across the globe. It was launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, in 2002. This year’s theme is ‘Act now: End child labour’.
Child labour exists across the globe and children, mostly from poor families, are forced to work in hazardous conditions which leads to unending physical, mental and social exploitation and suffering from the employers. Children are deprived of living their childhood to their fullest and also miss the opportunity of attending schools.
According to the latest report by the ILO and Unicef, child labour has soared to 160 million worldwide, the first increase in 20 years.
There also has been a significant rise in the number of children between 5-11 years in child labour, who account for over half of the global figure. “The number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide — an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years — with millions more at risk due to the impacts of Covid-19,” the report added.
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Developing countries like India contribute maximum towards child labour. According to the census of 2011, 259.64 million children belonged to the age group of 5-14 years of which 10.1 million were child labourers. Be it manufacturing of firecrackers in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi, the country’s bangle making industry, roadside eateries and restaurants, construction sites or even the house help, children from unfortunate sections have always been the soft target.
Unicef India representative Dr Yasmin Ali Haque told news agency PTI on Thursday the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has aggravated the risk of child labour in the country as more families have been pushed to poverty. “Children in poor and disadvantaged households in India are now at a greater risk of negative coping mechanisms such as dropping out of school and being forced into labour, marriage, and even falling victim to trafficking,” Haque added.
In recent years, reports have emerged that several consumer brands of global prominence including Forever 21, Cadbury, H&M, GAP etc- were caught employing children in their manufacturing units to save up on additional costs. Many activists and non-governmental organisations (NGO) have raised their voices against this and have also urged people to not buy products from such brands.