Every year the World Day Against Child Labour reminds us how far behind we still are when it comes to eradicating child labour. The Labour Act 2006 clearly states that the minimum age requirement for anyone being recruited for employment is 14, with some exceptions, and labelled a number of sectors as hazardous for children, yet as many as two million children work in perilous conditions.
Not only have we failed to prevent child labour, we have also allowed the number of children working in hazardous conditions to go up, according to a child rights organisation. Children from less affluent backgrounds are forced to work in severe circumstances as bus conductors, domestic help, tanners, casters, etc., leaving them exposed to physical, economic and even sexual exploitation. There's little scope for these children to acquire necessary education or skills to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. In the process, they are being robbed of their childhood and a decent shot at future.
This calls for sombre reflection. An indifferent attitude of the authorities towards child labour and the failure to enforce relevant laws and policies have resulted in children's increased involvement in hazardous jobs. The government must be more serious about implementing the existing laws if it is to live up to its own promise to eradicate one of the most disturbing forms of exploitation in our society.