India made moderate progress on child labour issue: US report

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 – 21:42

Washington: Worst forms of child labour continue to exist in many sectors in India, but the country has made moderate advancement towards eliminating the menace, according to an official US report.

In the 826-page report, released by the Department of Labour, India falls among 62 countries which have made "moderate advancement" towards elimination of child labour, while 10 countries have been listed in the top "significant advancement" category.

The countries which fall in the significant advancement category include Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines and Thailand.

Three countries, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Uzbekistan have been cited by the US for government complicity in forced child labour.

"We need to call upon governments, international and regional organisations, social partners and civil society to work together to end these human rights abuses," Thomas Perez, Secretary of Labour, said.

"In 2012, India made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The government passed new legislation to protect children from sexual offenses and children and adults from trafficking and forced labour," the report in its India section said.

The Indian government also established a new anti-trafficking unit responsible for arresting child traffickers, expanded its Right to Education Act to include children with disabilities and continued funding its National Child Labour Project (NCLP), it said.

However, basic legal protections for children remain weak, the report noted.
Legislation to prohibit work for children under the age of 14 and to proscribe hazardous work for children under 18 has been introduced in the Parliament but has yet to be passed, the report said in its India section.

"The worst forms of child labour continue to exist in many sectors, particularly in dangerous activities in agriculture and the manufacturing of goods in the informal economy. Children are also trafficked and perform forced or indentured labour," the Department of Labour said.

The report said that children in India are engaged in the worst forms of child labour, both in agriculture and manufacturing, including sectors like making matches, bricks, carpets, locks, glass bangles, fireworks, cigarettes, incense sticks, footwear, garments, hand-loomed silk fabric, leather, and brassware.

"Children spin thread/yarn, embroider, sew beads to fabric and stitch soccer balls. Many children manufacture goods in the informal economy, increasingly doing so in home-based production," the report said.

Forced labour continues to exist in India, it said.

The federal police stated that an estimated 1.2 million children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, the report added.

It also noted that there are reports that the children have been recruited to serve as soldiers by extra-legal armed groups in zones where armed conflict is occurring, such as by the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.