INDIA has done much better in the fight against child labour under the Narendra Modi Government, according to Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi. He expressed confidence that the last child in the country would be safe, free, and educated by 2047, when India celebrates its 100 years of independence.
Additionally, he had added in an interview that the Government will need the support of the society and private sector.
His remarks gain relevance in the context of the ILO’s launch of June 12 as the World Day Against Child Labour. This day every year is a time to take a look at the plight of victims and take steps against their exploitation.
Reports suggest that while there is a general awareness that there are laws against child labour, most people are unaware that victims can avail compensation.
In July 2016, the Government released Rs 200 crore to state governments and UTs under the Central Victim Compensation Fund from Nirbhaya Fund. The allotted onetime fund can be used to compensate victims of various crimes, including abuse of minors, assault, human trafficking, etc.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has also implemented numerous child labour projects for the rehabilitation of children rescued from hazardous or sub-optimal working conditions. Several other Government initiatives in recent times have been added that are helping against child trafficking and exploitation.
Many state governments and Union Territories have notified their victim compensation under Section 357A of the Code for Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
In March 2020, the Union Government released Rs. 100 crore for the Nirbhaya Fund to establish Anti-Human Trafficking Units at the district level across the country. In addition, there have been issuance of directives by the Union Home Ministry to state governments to control human trafficking, establishment of specific intelligence and surveillance mechanisms for law enforcement to identify gangs linked to human trafficking, and intelligence-building through monitoring history, identities and activities of such groups and their members, etc.
“Access to quality free education is an important tool to break the vicious cycle of child labour,” said Subhash Kumar, a survivor-leader from Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT), a national platform by survivors and for survivors of human trafficking.
“When children in poverty are educated and gain access to better work opportunities later in the future, it helps them to escape exploitation and build a better tomorrow for themselves,” he added.
A recent survey by the Chhattisgarh-based Shramik Adhikar Aur Nyay Sangthan (SAANS) that included findings on prevention of trafficking initiatives listed some Government initiatives that had a community impact. Among these were housing facilities, help for transport and in medical emergencies, social solidarity, actions against forced marriages, advice on daily problems and issues, and education.
It also mentioned community work-based support like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MGNREGA) guarantees 100 days of employment per year, and pension schemes.