Images of India: Child labour continues unabated…

Rani, 7, performs a rope balancing act in a public park in Kolkata. One in every 11 children in India is engaged in child labour. India has 1.13 crore child labourers between 5-14 years (Census 2011). One out of five child labourers is from Uttar Pradesh. UP has seen the least reduction in child labour numbers since 2009 (only 7.9%) Every 8 minutes, a child goes missing in India (District Crime Record Bureau Data Series). Adolescents between 15-17 years of age, doing hazardous work form 62.8% of the overall child labour population. 56% of the working adolescents are no longer studying. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act 2016, the law which is supposed to shield children from the perils of child labour, suffers from several flaws. What seems progressive at the surface is laden with inconsistencies. The definition of hazardous industry that the law entails is very limited. Brick kilns, cotton farms chemical mixing units have all been slashed as hazardous occupations. Sadly, these sectors are the largest employers of child labourers. Child labour in “family or family enterprises” allows the child to be “an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry”. This is particularly dangerous as this constitutes most of child labour.