As ILO confirmed the worldwide increase in child labour in an annual report ahead of World Day Against Child Labour, activist Kundan Kanskar talked about tackling the situation.
With the schools and educational institutions being shut in the Coronavirus-led pandemic, a lot of children posed a high risk of getting pushed into child labour. Ahead of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) confirmed this assumption.
According to the “Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020: Trends and the Road Forward” report released by ILO and UNICEF, nearly 160 million children are expected to have been involved in child labour globally.
Though the report does not mention the data specific to India, it has indicated how 247 million children enrolled in 1.5 million schools have been impacted by the COVID-19. It has also mentioned that the situation is likely to increase the risk of child labour in India.
Kundan Kanskar, the child right activist from Delhi says that the unemployment caused due to the pandemic and the followed lockdown could be one of the major causes for the child labour to increase. “When a family, which is dependent on the daily earnings lose their jobs, they are likely to use their children as a tool to earn money. Similarly, when industries start incurring losses, they tend to go offering employment to the children than their parents as children get hired by them at half the cost. There is no denying that these two can be the major reasons for the increase in the pandemic,” he says.
Mr. Kanskar has been working for child welfare for the past eight years. Heading the NGO, ‘Save Child Beggars’, he along with the volunteers, ensure to provide street kids with the basic food, clothing and medical checkups.
“There are three major categories likely to be involved in child labour. The kids living in the slums, those living in the streets and the beggars. The slum kids do have the bare minimum facilities where they can stay at homes as their parents work and earn money. The street kids, however, live in worse condition than the slums kids and are involved in some work for a living. On the other hand, the beggars belong to a particular section where they are not even motivated to earn money for themselves. The pandemic, thus, has shifted the slum kids and beggars, both into the section of street kids where they do not have a choice but to earn for themselves,” the 33-year-old says.
While the solutions to child labour cannot be imposed in a day, as per Kundan Kanskar, he believes that collective action of the government, industries, and society can bring some change. “Child labour is a crime and its eradication should be the priority of the policymakers. The authorities should be empowered to impose the strictest fines on the industries that take children for work. Likewise, the trials in the courts should speed up regarding the issue” he says.
Mr. Kanskar further says that individuals play an important role in reducing child labour. “If one person takes the responsibility of their area and checks on the children working nearby that area, a lot can be improved. One can find out the contacts of the Children Welfare Officer of that area and report there,” he says while adding that the basic one can do is to call on 1098 to inform about the children.
“There is no doubt that a few officers in the offices do not work as per expectations. However, it’s the responsibility of the people to keep questioning them. People’s participation, awareness, and engagement are the three major and effective solutions to the problem,” he says. “After all, children are the future of the country. The country will stand strong only when the children are strong,” Mr. Kanskar says.
Data Source: The Times of India
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