Child Labour

India accounts for the highest number of child labour in the world. According to the Census of India 2001, 1.25 crore children in the age group of 5-14 years are engaged in different occupations.  However, estimates of NGOs put this at much more, because there are many more working in the unorganised sector and in small-scale household units, who never get enumerated as child labour.

When HAQ formally came into existence in 1999, child rights was primarily about working on child labour issues. This despite India having ratified the UNCRC in 1992.

While it was imperative for HAQ to break this understanding, it was equally important to review the existing child labour elimination initiatives, document good practices and lessons learnt.

For HAQ, new areas of research on child labour has thus primarily been in the form of fact finding missions, aimed at generating knowledge and information on newer, underexposed or illegal forms of child labour and issues requiring government attention.

HAQ’s position on child labour has evolved over the years through its research and documentation initiatives.

At HAQ we believe:

  • Poverty is not the cause but the effect of child labour.
  • All children must be out of work and into school.
  • All forms of child labour are hazardous for children.
  • Any difference in the treatment of children in terms of their employment in hazardous and non-hazardous sectors amounts to serious violation of their fundamental right to life, equality and non-discrimination; it is a violation of the principle of ‘ALL Rights for ALL Children’ as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UNCRC.
  • Child labour is not a labour welfare issue. It is a child protection issue and must be addressed as such.

Access to education and quality education for all children, employment and livelihood for adults, action against alcoholism and domestic violence, strengthening existing law and its implementation, prosecution of offenders, check on child trafficking for labour etc are some of the measures that can help address the problem.

Some Research and Documentation Initiatives:

  • Review of a series of child labour elimination initiatives supported by Child Relief and You: Year 2000. This was done on behalf of UNDP.    
  • A base line survey and study on the situation of children in the costume jewelry industry. This study was part of a larger project undertaken by UNDP in partnership with Hennes and Mauritz (H&M), a Swedish chain-store company buying clothes and accessories from India, which is very clearly against the use of child labour: Year 2000.
  • Review of child labour elimination initiatives supported by The Royal Norwegian Embassy: Year 2001.
  • Fact finding of child labour in the Mining Industry in the Iron Ore and Granite Mines in Bellary District of Karnataka:Year 2005. View Report
  • “Out of Work and Into School- Initiatives in India” – a documentation of good practices and lessons learnt through child labour initiatives in India supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy: Year 2006.
  • Fact finding on children rescued from the Zari industry in Delhi and restored to their families in various districts of Bihar: Year 2006. View Report