A mere ban is not the solution.

Posted on May 13, 2015

A press release today on the Ministry of Labour website announced that a move to amend the existing Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012 has been approved by the cabinet.

Reading from the limited information currently available, it appears that after 30 years the Government of India has finally taken cognition of the fact that work, when safe, can be educative and a part of the learning process for a child. However, it does not recognize the fact that work experience within a family enterprise and the entertainment sector can also be exploitative, subjugative, and harder to regulate while ignoring the fact that the formal sector may also provide safe work based learning experiences for children which may be regulated.

Secondly, the Government acknowledges the ‘socio-economic realities’ which result in children being pushed into hazardous work yet it continues to remain silent on actually addressing poverty through any proactive preventive or rehabilitative measures. This implies that while we wish all children to experience an ‘equal’ childhood, there are no steps taken to ensure equal circumstances. The response of the law to children who will be forced to work will continue to be through the rudimentary and often harmful process of ‘raid and rescue’ and institutionalisation which in children’s narratives has been a traumatizing and criminalizing experience for several decades now. Hence, the tinkering of the 1986 Act, as is the current situation, is not only ineffectual but totally counter-productive. This has been the primary reason that The Concerned for Working Children has demanded a full repeal of the Act. What is demanded is an Act which prevents children from being pushed to do hazardous work by addressing the root causes or the push factors, re-imagining education and providing long-term solutions within a child rights framework.

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