One day he came eyes fearful and teary. Mud on his hands and sleeves and said “He beat me. I just can’t take anymore. Please help me. He choked my neck, my employer. He slapped me in front of everyone. As you are a powerful person please help me”. Later things became clear of what has happened exactly. A ten-year-old kid was nearly choked to death as he fairly asked for his share of salary and his employer simply refused. A fight took place and the kid was badly beaten. After that, he went to RWA’s to find help. An FIR was then filed on the employer and he paid a fine and apologised for what has happened.
The problem of covid-19 destroyed many lives but many don’t know how much it has affected the children. Child labour has risen to 16 crores worldwide. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years engages themselves in hazardous work with the sole purpose to help their families. Some are forced to do work and some do it willingly as seen in the example of Mujjafar.
Mujjafar is a 10-year kid who resides in Ghaziabad is also the bread earner in the family. “Sometimes I work double hours so that I can help my mother and my elder brother”. Asking about why he stopped going to school he said “I just can’t. My elder brother is mentally unstable and my mother is a maid. We just can’t thrive just on her earnings. I left because after the coronavirus my government school was shut down and the process to continue seemed very tough. Then I decided to work as a delivery boy for a vegetable shop.”.
Many children worldwide have lost their parents to the virus. No parental care is now available for the children. They have become extremely vulnerable to exploitation. According to a new report released by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), millions of children are at risk this time. The research, titled “Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, Trends, and the Road Forward,” claims that efforts to eradicate child labour have paused for the first time in 20 years, reversing a decreasing trend that saw it decline by 94 million (9.4 crores) between 2000 and 2016.
“Among the numerous populations afflicted by the global pandemic, children remain one of the worst-hit around the globe,” says Mr Guruprasad, Country Director of Educo in India. The pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of cases of child abuse and exploitation in India. In the country, the situation of working children and youngsters compelled or bonded to work has only gotten worse in the Covid pandemic.
Millions of people living in slums have been crippled by the pandemic which has resulted in falling living standards. As no workers are willing to work during the crisis, the employer finds children as a means of cheap labour. In every other poor house, tons of debt is on the heads of poor people. They have no choice but to stop sending their children to school. The nationwide shutting down of schools has affected about 320 million students. Many of the poor children ended up permanently not going to school and ended up in the workplace working longer hours to survive through this pandemic.
On the occasion of world day against child labour, many famous people were seen tweeting about the issue.
António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN said on Twitter, “Child labour should have no place in today’s world. Sadly, it remains a reality for 160 million children. Saturday’s #EndChildLabour Day is a reminder that it’s up to all of us to protect children from exploitation. “
Union Minister Smriti Irani wrote, “Every child has a right to education and happy childhood. On World Day Against Child Labour, let us reaffirm our commitment towards combatting child labour. It is with people’s participation that we can ensure our children get a childhood they deserve.”
Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a post on Twitter, “On #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour, we take a pledge to nurture the dreams of every young child and bring an end to forced labour.”
Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, said, “On #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour, our effort should be to end child labour in all its forms. During the corona pandemic, it has become more important to take care of children, especially from deprived sections so that no child is engaged in labour.”
and Sudarsan Pattnaik shared a message through art
Education, investment and planning are all that is needed to eradicate the social evil of child labour.