Child labour in Telangana

Child labour in Telangana

Prosecution against employers of child labour has become a challenge. The Telangana child labour department rescued 1,706 kids in 2016 and 1,085 employers were booked under the Child Labour Act. The rest went scot-free by flashing age proofs issued by doctors without conducting tests.

In some cases, parents, employers and the medical staff team up to produce fake certificates. During the court hearings, many parents and employers produce the age proof issued by medical professionals. The courts should not accept the age proof issued by medical professionals based on the appearance of the child.

A recent census by CRY (Child Rights and You) showed that the overall decrease in child labour is 2.2 per cent in the last 10 years. Surprisingly, child labour has grown by more than 50 per cent in the urban areas.   In TS, there are about 3.73 lakh child labourers among whom 49.2 per cent are girls in the age group of 5 to 14 years.  Child labourers are employed in the rural areas as cultivators or in household industries. In the urban areas, they work as domestic servants and in construction sites. Urban residents employ the largest chunk of child labourers as domestic helps.

A sample survey by the Telangana labour department has found between 80-90% of child labourers in the state belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

Among the 10 districts surveyed, Vikarabad had the highest number of child labourers. Over 644 child labourers between the ages of 9 and 14 were found in the district. There are more than 3,077 adolescents (14-18 years old) employed as child labourers.

In 2016, the Child Labour Act was amended to categorise children above the age of 14 and up to 18 as “adolescents”. The amendment allowed adolescent children to be employed in non-hazardous industries. Officials told The News Minute that this amendment could be the reason why 8,105 adolescent child labourers between the ages of 15 to 18 identified by the survey did not go to school.  After the amendments were passed in the Rajya Sabha, the United Nations said the move would disadvantage tribal and lower caste children. UNICEF said child labour rates are highest among tribal and lower caste communities, at almost 7% and 4% respectively. The amendments would have an adverse impact on marginalised and impoverished communities.

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