Kids continue to toil away their childhood

English: Varanasi, India as seen from Ganga river.

Image via Wikipedia


VARANASI: Despite the tall claims of the labour department, the problem of child labour exists across the country. In Varanasi, one can see children working as labourers in different fields.

However, the records of labour department claim that all 21 child labourers identified last month in Varanasi, Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Chandauli have been rehabilitated educationally. They have been admitted to the schools in the neighbourhood.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is going to hold a public hearing on the issue of child labour and other child rights issues on Saturday. According to Lov Verma, member secretary of NCPCR, the public hearing would be held at the office of divisional commissioner.

“We had sent complaints to the NCPCR regarding the violation of child rights in the region for which the public hearing has been organised. During the hearing, 36 cases of child rights violation from different districts including Varanasi, Bhadohi, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Maharajganj would be taken up,” said Rajiv Kumar Singh of Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation (SSRF).

“Out of 36 cases, 19 are related to the Right to Education Act while 17 cases are related to other issues like child labour, child sex abuse and child trafficking,” he told TOI on Friday.

“One of the cases to be heard during public hearing would be the case of child trafficking in which no action has been taken so far,” said Singh.

It may be recalled that eight children, all dalits from Bihar, were rescued from the child traffickers at Mughalsarai railway station in July 2010. They were being transported to Hyderabad to work in some factories. But before they could catch the train the volunteers of NGO spotted them and rescued with the help of GRP. The boys were handed over to the volunteers of SSRF to produce them before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at Varanasi.

Besides, five more children, who were taken to Jaipur (Rajasthan) from Darbhanga (Bihar) were also rescued in July 2010. They were produced before the CWC and sent back to their native place. According to Singh, in last one year 75 children both boys and girls were rescued at Mughalsarai and Varanasi railway stations.

In another incident, two minor girls from Orissa, who were not only kept in captivity by a Tibetan couple for 27 months in Sarnath but they were also sexually abused, were rescued and sent back to their native place. The couple was arrested and sent to jail. An NGO, Guria, reunited the girls with their families.

Earlier, the NCPCR team led by Yogesh Dube also made a visit to Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi) and Varanasi district from November 1 to 3, 2011 to review the child labour and child rights situation.

Definitely it is a welcome move of the NCPCR to take up the cases of child rights violation, but the fact is that the interests of children particularly belonging to poor class are not taken care of in total.

Despite commitment to child protection enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by India in 1992, children continue to remain vulnerable. According to the report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development on ‘Child Protection in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012)’, India is home to more than one billion people, of whom one-third are children under 18 years of age.

The world’s tenth largest economy unfortunately ranks 127 on the Human Development Index (HDI). If all child rights indicators were to become a critical measure for HDI, India would fare even worse, especially because of its poor performance on child protection. World’s highest number of child labourers is in India. The children are trafficked for labour and other purposes.

However, if the data of NCPCR is to be believed, a declining trend has been witnessed in the growth of child labour in Varanasi district between 1991 and 2001 (census reports). According to the report, there were 43,320 child labourers in Varanasi district in 1991, which reduced to 34,883 in 2001.

The NCPCR was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. Its mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.


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