Child labour robs children of their right to an innocent childhood. Do your bit to stop it by making informed decisions and spreading awareness.
“Anger is within each one of you, and if we are confined in the narrow shells of egos, and the circles of selfishness, then the anger will turn out to be hatred, violence, revenge, destruction. But if we are able to break the circles, then the same anger could turn into a great power. We can break the circles by using our inherent compassion and connect with the world, through compassion, to make this world better.” These are the words of Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a child rights activist who has been fighting against child labour for over 36 years now. It was the anger of this common man that led to the formation of one of the world’s largest people’s movement that crossed borders and raised its voice for the children of the world trapped in child slavery.
Begin with yourself
Let’s accept that the people who employ children at their homes or places of work in the name of giving them an opportunity to earn a living and sustain themselves instead of starving are not as charitable as they pretend to be. They benefit greatly from the children they look upon as nothing more than cheap labour; labour that doesn’t question them, is always at their service, resides in a corner of their house to answer their every beck and call, and can be moulded to the best of the owner’s needs.
Be a conscientious consumer
Be it garments, confectionery, jewellery or any other consumer product, ask your retailer, manufacturers or shopkeeper if their brand is child-labour free. They might not always have an answer as sometimes, the supply chain has many layers and the end seller might not be aware of the processes followed at other levels. But at least you’ve asked! This will make them think. Many might even be encouraged to investigate and ensure no child labour is involved in their business.
You can also suggest they put up a proud declaration on their premises stating ‘My business is child labour free!’ Another option is to make a conscientious decision to go with organisations like GoodWeave. Formerly known as Rugmark, this is a global network of organisations, committed to ending child labour in carpet and readymade garment industry.
This industry used to be one of the most notorious with incidents of atrocious working conditions and forced child labour. Many organizations including Bachpan Bachao Andolan, have worked through their rescue operations and liberated many bonded child labourers from the carpet industry.
As responsible citizens, you must go for brands promoted by GoodWeave as those have been certified to be child labour free after a rigorous process of investigation.
Educate yourself on the laws
One of the first steps to making the society child labour free is to yourself know about the provisions laid down in our Constitution for the protection of children, as well as the various laws in place to stop their exploitation and ensure prosecution of offenders. A simplified list of such provisions and laws can be accessed here.
Once you are aware of this, you are better equipped to assess the situation at hand and to warn the offenders around you.
Use the fear of retribution for good!
While you try to talk to the offenders about the trauma child labour can have on the children’s psyche, they might not be as moved. Because, let’s accept it, had they considered those children as humans with feelings, they would not have subjected them to slavery, thus snatching away their innocent childhood. In such cases, informing them of the penalty laid down by law, for the protection of children, has a better chance of keeping them from destroying childhoods.
Be vigilant and report abuse
Be aware of any form of child abuse or exploitation happening around you. Remember, such children, need us to be their voices. Know about the concerned authorities in your locality such as the RWA head, NGOs or CBOs active in your area.
When you come across any case of child labour in your surroundings, immediately inform the police at 100 or call the Child Helpline at 1098 or reach out immediately to the NGOs/CBOs in your locality. You can also inform these concerned authorities either personally or through a phone call or letter. Phone calls or letters can be used to keep your identity anonymous in case the offender is someone influential.