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Activists Object to passage of India Child Labour Act, "90 % of India’s Child labour legalized through the back door."

2 August 2016

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sacw.net - 2 August 2016

Indian anti-sex trafficking organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide and more than 1,000 activists including Malini Bhattacharya, who heads AIDWA (the women’s wing of CPIM, Harsh Mander of Aman Biradari, Colin Gonsalves of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Chitra Sarkar of the All India Women’s Conference, Ruchira Gupta and Tinku Khanna of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, Kirti Singh of AIDWA, Vimal Thorat of All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, Gloria Steinam, Feminist campaigner, Bharti Ali of HAQ-Centre for Childrens Rights, P Joseph Victor Raj of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), Nandita Das, Indian Film Actress, Dr. John Dayal, and Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winner, MPs Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) and Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo object to the passage of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.

The Act has legalized 90 % of India’s Child Labour by legaliizing child labor in “family and family-based enterprises” and the “audio-visual entertainment”.

In a shameless hoax, the Act claims to have made child labour illegal under 18 and to have imposed fines upto Rs 50,000 on employers, but in reality it has removed all age limits in the so-called “Family and Family-based enterprises”.

Tragically, it has shortened the list of hazardours occupations for children. Now children can be employed in mixing dangerous chemicals, working as sharecroppers in fields, on construction sites, brick kilns, circuses, orchestra parties etc.

In contradiction to the JJ Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child the Act has no provision to protect children in need. On the contrary, it does not define number of work hours of children. This will result in poor-low caste children being pushed to work long hours and increase school drop-out.
Sadly, poor low-caste parents are to be fined Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 for not sending their children to school, after/before these working hours. Since these parents are already debt slaves of contractors, landlords and employers they will be punished for something they have no control over.
Compounded with the government cut of 50% of its budget for women and children and 28% for education, leading to to the closure of mid-day meals and boarding schools for poor low caste children, this will put have a devastating impact on India’s children for generations.

There are 1,01,28,663 child labourers in the country between the age group of 5 to 14 years as per 2011 census. (43,53,247 as main workers and 57,75,416 as marginal workers i.e. working for less than six months in a year). 80 per cent of them are Dalits and the other 20 % of them are from backwards castes. Many of these children work with families who are in debt bondage, enslaved by contractors and unscrupulous landlords. They have no bargaining power to keep children at home or send them to school. This Act will lock our children in caste-based occupations further.

For more information:Taw Nana at mediaassociate at apneaap.org or phone: at 9911431060