Wednesday, August 02, 2006

India Broadens Child Labor Protection


In India, an estimated 44 million children aged 5-14 are economically active. India, seeking to address this problem, has increased the number of jobs that prohibit child labor under the 1986 Child Labor Act. Current banned jobs are in sectors like mining, cigarette manufacturing, and meat processing. When this measure takes effect on October 10, those under 14 will not be allowed to be work in households, hotels, and restaurants.

Non-governmental organizations have claimed that this is not enough. They feel that by prohibiting child labor in certain industries, the government is actually endorsing child labor in other areas. The counter point is that in certain poor areas, children receive a terrible education that does not increase their earning potential. Flowing from this is the belief that dropping out of school and entering the work force is the better long-term economic move.

Those that employ child workers in their homes believe that they are helping the poor. There is little belief that this sort of child labor is wrong. However, the labor ministry stated that many household child workers are subjects of physical violence, psychological harm, and sexual abuse. The ministry said this “measure is expected to go a long way in ameliorating the condition of hapless working children.”

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