| by Ali Sukhanver
( May 27, 2014, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) This highly civilized, educated and marvelously scientific world of today says that child labour is simply a severe violation of basic human rights; but in spite of this realization, throughout the world more than 215 million children aging from five to seventeen are compelled to work under conditions that are considered illegal, perilous and extremely exploitative according to the book of moral values. What is Child labour? Different people might be having different definitions of child labour but the easiest and the most impressive answer to this question is that child labor is the work that harms children or keeps them from attending school. Even in the USA, the situation regarding child labour is not very pleasant.
The gap between the rich and the poor not only in USA but also in other parts of the world is growing day by day rapidly; poverty is increasing; population is growing and as a result of this hazardous situation, millions of children belonging to the poor families are left with only one option; they have to work to save their families from the cruel clutches of disease and hunger. According to a recent report of the International Labor Organization, ‘Underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor.
Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.’ But the US department of Labour has something more frightening to say. The department issued a report on child labour in India somewhere in 2012. The report says, ‘India made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by passing new legislation to protect children from sexual offenses, from trafficking and forced labor.
But the worst forms of child labor continue to exist in many sectors. Children work in agriculture, producing crops such as rice and hybrid seeds and picking cotton. Children who work in agriculture use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides. Children in India also work under hazardous conditions manufacturing a variety of products, quarrying stone and other materials, breaking stones, and polishing gems.’ The Harvard School of Public Health recently conducted a study assessment survey on painful fate of the innocent children who are playing a pivotal role in the carpet industry of India.
There are several thousand children who are forced to work in carpet industry in the North-Indian states. The survey report indicates that it is not only the carpet industry where innocent children are doing labour; these innocent workers are also in the field of making matches, glass bangles, fireworks, cigarettes, incense sticks, footwear, garments, hand-loomed silk fabric, leather, and brassware. During their work, these children are exposed to harmful chemicals and dangerous machinery and tools. The experts of the Harvard School of Public Health have concluded that most of these children have to face joint pain, headaches, hearing loss, skin infections, respiratory problems, and finger deformities. The government of India is very well aware of the situation but it is unable to take any stern action against those who force the children to work in the factories because most of the factories are owned by the Indian politicians. The most frightening thing with reference to the child labour is that the children are being recruited by extra-legal armed groups to serve as soldiers in zones where armed conflict is occurring such as by the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.
However the main area of interest of the experts of the Harvard School of Public Health had been the child labour in carpet industry of India. The report includes some painful statements of innocent carpet workers who were even not aware of their pitiable fate when they were forced into this industry. Some of them are now grown up boys. A twenty five years old boy from Jharkand told the researchers that he was just ten years old when he became a carpet worker. He said, “I came to Bhadoi from Jharkand with my brother.
The contractor promised that we would earn 200 Rupees per day and we would have food and clean quarters. Now we are locked in this factory and we two get just 100 rupees per day for twelve hours work. I didn’t want to leave my home but we have no other option.” The report says that that India's hand-made carpet sector is actually a horrific business where 20% of workers are children. They work in sub-human conditions, toiling up to 12 or more hours a day to weave beautiful carpets which are very much popular in the western countries.
If the western people had even the slightest knowledge that their favourite carpets were the result of the exploited child labour, they would have certainly discouraged using and buying these carpets. It is being hoped that newly elected prime Minister of India would pay attention to this problem of child-labour but another more bitter truth is that Mr. Moodi would never get ample time to look into the matter personally. He has more important things to do. He has got a golden opportunity of settling old scores with the Muslims and this is certainly a time-taking task.