"Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time."
According to a recent estimate of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 120 million children between the ages of 5-14 are employed as full time labourers around the world. A good number of such children labour in the most hazardous and dangerous industries. In India itself, it is estimated that there are at least 44 million child labourers in the age group of 5-14. More than eighty percent of child labourers in India are employed in the agricultural and non-formal sectors and many are bonded labourers. Most of them are either illiterate or dropped out of school after two or three years.
There is a big difference between Child labour and Child work. Child work can be beneficial and can enhance a child’s moral or social development without interfering with schooling, recreation and rest. Helping parents in their household activities and business after school in their free time also contributes positively to the development of the child.
Child labour, however, is the opposite of Child work. Child labour blocks the normal physical, intellectual, emotional and moral development of a child. Children who are in the growing process; heavy loads and malnutritioncan permanently distort or disable their bodies. Children are less resistant to diseases and suffer more readily from chemical hazards and radiation than adults.
We must ensure that while eliminating child labour, we much eliminate it from all the industries, especially from the informal sector, which is more invisible to public scrutiny - and thus leaves the children more open to abuse and exploitation.