All around the world, especially in the developing parts, there are widespread instances of children being used as an informal labor force across industrial sectors. According to surveys, countries like Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Ethiopia have consistently ranked high on the child labor employment charts. But it is India, the largest democratic republic nation in the world that has the dubious distinction of being regarded as the worst of the lot.>
The actual numbers vary since there is no real consistency on the statistical data gathering process. From the official estimates to the numbers put forward by non-governmental organizations and unofficial guesstimates, the numbers fluctuate wildly, going from 10 million children being employed to the high numbers breaching the 100 million mark.
Certain types of industries and occupations have also traditionally lent themselves to employing children out of choice. Examples include: Fireworks industry, Jari work, artificial jewelry units, textile units, etc. Moreover, the entire small and medium scale industry framework has also been at the risk of employing child laborers. Apart from these, ship building yards, scavenging and informal recycling networks, food service industries, etc. too have found to be significantly involved in contributing to the employment of children.
In most instances, the murky world of child trafficking has spread its deadly tentacles by preying on the circumstances and compulsions of people that are already suffering from the scourge of severe poverty conditions. But, child labor in India is not simply a poverty problem. There are other factors involved that include societal attitudes towards children, family driven negligence, and a medieval mindset that believes in practices such as bonded labor and so on.
A close examination of the reasons behind these developments by experts has revealed that they do not really work on their own. In almost all the cases, close interdependencies have been discovered between the key reasons.
At the top of this list is poverty and this is often endemic, running through the fabric of the family or community on the whole. Lack of access to a quality education is another contributing factor, with school dropout rates being higher than the general average in regions where child labor is rampant. There are also high incidences of gender discrimination with girls being consistently worse off than boys in this regard. Natural or man-made disasters often leave children at a considerable disadvantage and expose them to the risk of exploitation.
On-the-whole however, it is society that is largely responsible for this scourge. The demand for cheap labor and the subsequent exploitation of kids are both, the result of societal conditions and it is therefore necessary for the thought process to change, before we see the effects in the actual world.
About The Author
CRY America works to eliminate child labor in India with their various projects supporting children rights. Let us together initiate positive steps and promote the well-being of Indian children.