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Among the working children younger than 15, most are below the minimum age for legal employment. A significant proportion are very young- between 5 and ll- and many of those are not even paid for their services.
The term \”child labour\”, coined in Britain during the 19th century, implies that the children involved should not be working. \”Youth employment\” implies something different. Many languages do not have a phrase that implies that children should not be working and use expressions more similar to \”child work\”
The relatively low wages paid to children are often a reason why employers prefer them to adult workers. Some children work unpaid, particularly as domestic workers, in conditions that would be denounced as \”slavery\” if they involved adults. Employers find children more obedient and easier to control. Unlike older workers, they are unlikely to initiate protests or form trade unions.
It is easy for adults to intimidate children. Employers can force child workers into submission when the children are dependent on them for food, lodging and even emotional support. In most parts of the world, it is still considered acceptable for parents to beat their children. Employers take advantage of the public’s acceptance of corporal punishment to beat their children workers as a means of controlling them
A lot of employers use the excuse that some jobsadults cannot perform therefore smaller children are needed in the workplace. They say that only the children have the \”nimble fingers\” which helps them give attention to the details
13-year-old Lakshmi is a rescued child laborer. She was rescued after being abducted four years earlier from her village in north-east India. Until she was rescued, she had been working in people’s homes in West Delhi. She cooked cleaned and took care of children. If she did something wrong or something they didn’t like they would hit her. She wasn’t allowed to rest. If she sat down they would scream at her. When Lakshmi started working her employer took all the money she earned and left her with nothing
Lakshmi said- \”I was never allowed to leave the house, so I didn’t realize that I’m in Delhi. My employers told me that we are in Madras in South India.\” Later she told the policemen in tears that the men who had abducted her sexually assaulted her. They threatened her that if she ever told anyone about it that they would tell everyone back home in her village and her honor would be destroyed
\”What can we really do? We are poor people – I didn’t have enough money to come to Delhi to look for my missing niece.\”
\”Unscrupulous agents and middlemen just come into our homes when parents are away working at the tea gardens and lure young girls with new clothes and sweets. Before they know it, they are on a train to a big city at the mercy of these greedy men.\”
-Lakshmi’s uncle relieved to have found her
One child goes missing every eight minutes in India and nearly half of them are never found. Kidnapped children are often forced into the sex trade. But many here feel that children are increasingly pushed into domestic labour – hidden from public view within the four walls of a home. The government estimates half a million children are in this position.
In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age. Whether or not particular forms of \”work\” can be called \”child labour\” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. This varies from country to country, and also in sectors within countries.
The worst forms of child labor include all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. Also, the use of children for prostitution or the production of pornography, the use of children in illicit activities such as the selling of drugs. Overall, any work that is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children.
The term \”child labour\” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
Whether a child is a boy or a girl can determine at what age they are sent to work and in which particular occupation. The children who work or are at greatest risk for becoming child laborers vary from culture to culture and region to region. Gender differences also may affect a child’s access to education and assistance.
Children start work when they are too young, or take on work that is hazardous, for many reasons. Children in developing countries do so because they and their families need the extra income. Many end up working unpaid for their employers in exchange for their board and lodging.
The main reason why children start work instead of attending school, or leave school before completing their primary education, is that their families are poor and cannot pay the basic costs of food and housing without their child earning something as well. But the reasons why families are poor vary enormously, some are global, some are national and some are historic.
An estimated 246 million children are engaged in child labor. Nearly 70 per cent (171
million) of these children work in hazardous conditions including working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere, but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations. The vast majority of working children – about 70 per cent – work in the agriculture sector .
Millions of girls work as domestic servants and unpaid household help and are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Millions of others work under horrific circumstances. They may be are trafficked (1.2
million), forced into debt bondage or other forms of slavery (5.7 million), forced into prostitution and/or pornography (1.8 million) or recruited as child soldiers in armed conflict (300,000).
\”Child prostitution \”involves offering the sexual services of a child or inducing a child to perform sexual acts for a form of compensation, financial or otherwise.\” Worldwide, approximately 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and it is estimated that the total number of child prostitutes is as high as 10 million.\”
\”Generally children do not commit child prostitution but the adults who engage in prostitution or offer a child’s sexual services to others force them. It is estimated that at least 1 million girls worldwide are lured or forced into this scandalous form of child exploitation. Child prostitution is more frequent in developing countries such as Brazil and Thailand where more than 200,000 children are exploited.\”
Child prostitution is not only a cause of death and high morbidity for millions of children, but also a gross violation of their rights. Prostitution negatively affects children’s sexual health, causes psychological harm, and puts them at risk for enduring increased violence.
Child labor is found in every part of the world, particularly in developing countries. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention, child labour is defined as all children below 18 in harmful occupations or work activities in the labour market or their own household; all children undertaking work in the labour market or household interfering with their primary
education; all children under 15 in full time employment; and all children under 13 in part time work.
The use of child labour in the early phases of industrialization in many countries has attracted special attention. It is to be understood that child labour hampers the growth of human resources. It not only reduces the individual’s education achievements but also reduces the effect and quality of the education system. Further, child labor has redistribution effects on the labor market. Child labor is common in households where poverty is inherited from one generation to another.
Child labor is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing countries. Africa and Asia together account for over 90 percent of total child employment. Child labor is especially prevalent in rural areas where the capacity to enforce minimum age requirements for schooling and work is lacking.
Children work for variety of reasons, the most important being poverty and the induced pressure upon them to escape from this plight. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in developing countries.
Schooling problems contribute to child labor, whether it be the inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality
education which spurs parents to enter their children in more profitable pursuits. Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social roles in certain countries further limit
educational attainment and increase child labor.