Thousands of children are forced into child labour in our country mainly because of poverty. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act was amended in 2016 to better tackle the problem, yet according to a UNICEF report, there is more than a 50 per cent increase in child labour in the big cities. Today’s youth have a major role to play in curbing the menace. International Labour Organisation (ILO) observes World Day Against Child Labour to highlight the plight of child workers across the globe. In this context, Orissa POST spoke to some youths who have been trying to check child labour in the city.
Suprava Mohanty of Cuttack who is in her final year of graduation said, “The main reason behind increasing cases of child labour in the state is population growth and poverty. Due to poverty, many parents cannot afford to fund their children’s education. Instead, they make them work from a tender age to supplement family income. Although the government is trying hard to address the issue, it has not yielded the desired result so far. Often people illegally engage kids as domestic help on the pretext that they have saved the children from starving to death. The kids are made to work very hard in exchange for a paltry sum as salary. Such cases don’t come to the attention of the government easily. We are creating awareness among the people to inform the authorities on the Child Helpline by dialling 1908 and the nearest police station if they come across such cases. I have done it twice and am happy that those kids are now in school.”
Lawyer Selin Mohanty of Cuttack said, “The government should formulate an effective policy to abolish child labour. It is also very important to know the provisions laid down in our Constitution for the protection of children as well other laws that seek to prevent their exploitation and ensure prosecution of offenders. Once you get to know about such laws, you will be in a better position to assess the situation and warn the offenders.”
“These days, young people are very active on social media. If they would give five minutes of their valuable time to spread awareness on laws pertaining to child labour in India, it would help many children realise their dream to go to school. I regularly share the details of these laws across all platforms. If others do the same, the issue of child labour in our society can largely be addressed,” he added.
Amrit Mohanty of Cuttack said, “The root cause of the problem is the people who encourage children to work for their own benefits. It is our duty to warn such people and apprise them of the penalties for involving children in work. Whenever I come across such cases, I make sure to free the child from the clutches of the employer. Often I take the help of Child Helpline officials to settle the issue.”
“One person can’t make a huge difference. It is our collective duty to push others to find any such cases in their locality and help to better the lives of children,” he added.