NGOs fear new bill will perpetuate child labour

TNN | Sep 2, 2015, 02.00 AM IST

PANAJI: Pro Child Network, an umbrella organization of various groups working for children's rights, has raised concerns about the proposed amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act by the government of India. 

The proposed amendment allows children below 14 years of age to work in family enterprises, agriculture, artisanship, entertainment industry (except circus) "after school hours". The amendment is likely to drag more children into unregulated conditions of work. The Pro Child Network further observes that this law is not in line with the Right to Education Act that entitles children between 6 to 14 years of age to free and compulsory education. 

The parliamentary standing committee examining the 2012 bill, which already proposed a similar amendment bill, states: "The ministry is itself providing loopholes by inserting this proviso since it would be very difficult to make out whether children are merely helping their parents or are working to supplement the family income. Further, allowing children to work after school is detrimental to their health as rest and recreation is important for their physical and cognitive development." 

More children are likely to be trafficked to work in 'home-based' environments as nobody will check whether they belong to the same family or not. Since most family-based occupations in India are caste-based, this bill will only keep the caste system intact and not give children an opportunity to learn new, employable trades. 

The network has anticipated that the amendment will only perpetuate invisible forms of child labour and exploitation of children.