DJN Blogs

Aditi Chauhan, pursuing BA LL.B. (Hons.) from Fairfield School of Law, Delhi.

Date: 18.11.2020



“When I worked at the shrimp factory, I could not dream. I felt that I should not dream.” – 13 years old

Child labor continues to be one of the greatest problems confronting the world right now. The hands of the children are intended for holding pens and books and not for washing dishes or serving plates. Child labor occurs primarily in developing countries and this can have a worldwide impact. Considering the varied reasons that are accredited to cause child labor in countries like India, it will be exhibited that poverty is a common element altogether. India does not have enough resources to tackle such a problem because there is a lack of awareness about a child’s mental and physical health, therefore international effort is needed. 


The Bureau of Indian Census 2001 defines child labor as “the participation of a child under 17 in any financially productive activity with or without compensation, wages or benefits. Such participation can be physical or mental or both. This work includes part-time assistance or unpaid work on the farm, in the family business, or in any economic activity such as growing and producing milk for sale or home use. The Government of India classifies child labor into two groups: primary workers who work 6 months or more per year. And at least child laborers who work at any time of the year but less than 6 months of the year. “According to 2017 statistics, India is one of Asia’s leading countries, with 33 million children engaged in various forms of child labor

The International Labor Organization (ILO) assesses that there are more than 200 million children under the legitimate age (Fifteen years) who are engaged in child labor. These children are made to work at horticulture, brick-making factory, sex business, development work, quarrying, and prostitution which can interfere with their training and social development. The greatness of this issue has affected low-income countries, particularly poor people. Due to lack of education and unemployment, child labor has become a necessity in these nations including Asia and Africa. People are not educated enough, some do not have jobs, according to them, studying is not beneficial for their children, and they believe that a child should earn at this stage. Parents send their children to work without realizing that it jeopardizes their child’s well-being and advancement.

The Situation Prevailing in India

In India, the Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986, and its regulation stipulate that children shall not be allowed to be employed in any occupation listed in part-A. The law strictly prohibits the employment of children in certain ‘dangerous occupations’ and regulates the working condition of others. According to the 2011 census data, India had 10.13 million child laborers, ages 5-14. However, this problem is not uniform across India as some states report a higher prevalence of child labor than others such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh. – which together make up almost 55% of the total labor force. Children in India. Acute poverty is the main cause of child labor throughout the planet, but everybody – society. Parents, government, individuals, low wages, unemployment, poor standard of living, deep social prejudices, and backwardness are directly liable for child labor in India. Despite this, there’s no enactment that genuinely contributed to the wipe out of child labor. The constitution in the article – twenty-five states that no child below fourteen years is going to be utilized in any factories or mines or engaged in any venturesome occupation that’s harmful to them. But, until currently it’s not remarked anyplace of lavation or elimination of child labor. Admitting that the Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986 has suggested some average operating conditions for youngsters who add hazardous environment, nonetheless, the word hazardous has not been such as clearly anywhere within the constitution, or in any act declared on child labor. Thus, the clarification of the term ‘hazardous’ is unclear and inadequate particularly within the case of child labor.

Fact Sheet

In a recent legal analysis carried out by CRY (2019), it was observed that before the reform of the law, 83 hazardous occupations and processes were annexed to Annex 1 of the law. The listed occupations were subsequently reduced to 38 in 2016. Compared to the main list of hazardous occupations as defined in the 1986 Environmental Protection Act, out of 104 listed occupations and processes, only 83 entries in 2008 and 38 occupations and processes they are considered prohibited job categories for child workers. In addition, it was noted that 38 basic hazardous processes and occupations are prohibited for working children, but the remaining 66 hazardous processes and occupations still serve as service areas for adolescent labor employment as they are included in peripheral industrial activities under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the Factories Act 1948. Child labor laws allow children to help out in family businesses; they are likely hired to run family businesses or to help families. As industries reopen with the easing of labor laws, small businesses are likely to be critical contributors in the supply chain, thus expanding employment opportunities for children, especially when the enforcement mechanism is weak. .

The Covid Impact: Economic and social crises will especially affect children. 

During the National lockdown, migrant workers suffered the most; they suddenly found themselves without jobs, food uncertainty, or source of income. This has driven them into intense neediness. To get by with restricted admittance to business openings, the probability of their children accepting financial jobs has expanded. In this way, children are likely to enter the labor force and increased the danger of abuse for the one previously working. 

  • Families would use child labor to cope with job losses and health shocks associated with COVID-19, especially if they do not participate in the education system.
  • In the current crises, Children belonging to marginalized minority groups, or child-dominated homes, migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons, or areas affected by conflict or natural disasters are more vulnerable to child labor. 
  • Girl child responsibility has increased for household chores and care in addition to the risk of labor. 

What immediate actions should be taken to prevent child labor? 

  • Education is not only the key to helping young people achieve productive work when they reach the minimum age, but it is also the most important factor in the rehabilitation of those who prevent and withdraw from child labor. in this regard, it is important to ensure that the minimum age for employment is above the age at which compulsory school education is completed.
  • Employers should Stop recruiting children under the minimum age, employing children in child labor conditions is not acceptable to businesses 
  • Companies of all sizes should ensure that child is not involved in dangerous work, as they have immediate and long-lasting effects on the safety and health of workers, including children. This may include injuries (injury caused by blades), illness (respiratory illnesses due to toxic chemicals or dust), disability (such as a machine-powered organ), and death (from pesticide poisoning). 
  • Children are more likely to be injured as They are less aware of the risk than adults and particularly vulnerable to threats mentally and physically 
  • People in rural areas are less aware of the health of children, parents should not encourage their children to engage in such activities as they are exposed to hazardous chemicals or physical stress which can severely damage their health  
  • Industries should make sure that children stay away from activities and environments that are dangerous to them but not to (e.g. heavy loads, night work, heavy machinery). 
  • Poor people can’t afford Schooling, so they send their children to work large companies may choose to pay for children’s education to keep them away from the labor market. Companies, large and small, can contribute by raising awareness of the importance of education in the workplace, community, industry, or sector.
  • To appropriately implement child labor laws and make compelling projects focused on the disposal of youngster work, examples of child labor and the conditions encompassing such work initially must be recognized.

National and International Protection of Children’s Rights

India has adopted constitutional and effective legal development measures to protect the rights of the children and eliminate Child Labor 

  1. The Indian constitution consciously incorporated provisions to ensure compulsory primary education as well as the protection of child labor. The Indian labor commission has examined the problems of child labor and made detailed recommendations, it also grants certain rights to children and prohibits child labor. These provisions are as follows:
  2. No child under the age of 14 shall be employed in a factory or mine or engage in any other hazardous work. 
  3. The State, in particular, will guide its policy to ensure that the health and strength of workers, men, and women, and the young age of children are not abused and that citizens are not bound by the economic necessity which is not appropriate for their age or strength. 
  4. Children have the possibility and the means to develop in a healthy way and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. 
  5. The State shall endeavor to provide, within ten years after the beginning of the constitution, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years.
  6. The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years in the terms that the State determines by law.
  7. Who is the parent or guardian who educates the child, or maybe the guardian between the ages of 6 and 14 years 
  8. Various laws that largely guarantee the rights and rights set out in the Constitution and UN Convention.

International Laws to protect Children’s Right

  1. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that children have the right to special care and support under Article 25 (2). 
  2. The other principles of the Universal Declaration on Children were incorporated into the 1959 Declaration of Children’s Rights. 
  3. International Covenants and Covenants on Citizens and Political Rights under Articles 23 and 24 International Law on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights-Article 10 provides for the protection of children. 
  4. International Labor Organization (ILO)- Provides universal standards and guidelines, a specialized agency of the United Nations, intending to provide guidance and standards for labor practices around the world. 
  5. International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been signed by 193 states contains 54 articles that define and highlight all the rights of children, including life, food, protection, education, and protection of children with disabilities. 
  6. The second part of the Convention contains procedures for respecting and enforcing the Convention through the Committee on the Rights of the Child. 
  7. In May 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted two protocols to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, prostitution and child pornography. , As well as the involvement of children in armed conflict. 
  8. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention, developing a procedure for individual complaints of violations of children’s rights. 


Child labor is an evil that ought to be done away with at the earliest. Children are the prime assets of a nation. Extreme poverty is the main cause; children have no other choice other than working. Many households would need to undergo the discomfort of starvation if the youngsters are withdrawn from work, ‘beggars can’t be chooser’. There are many laws and regulations regarding child labor, but they are ineffective in dealing with child labor. This is possible only with the cooperation of all sectors of society and law enforcement agencies and by eliminating or reducing the causes of child labor. Due to the higher poverty level, the poor families need to send their children to work, knowing that the upcoming years are going to be ruined but they need to, as that’s the sole way open for them to survive in this world. Therefore unless the socio-economic status of the poor families is improved, India has got to accept child labor. The solution is in the hands of the government, and parents of child labor must take the necessary steps to eradicate poverty through employment. Children have the power to play a significant role in preventing and responding to child labor too. Necessary practical measures must be taken to raise children. The government must provide the necessary means to educate poor people and spread awareness about their physical and mental health and also the punishment for violation of the Child Labor Act.

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