Concerned by amended child labour bill in India: UN


The UN Children’s Fund has voiced concern over the amended Child Labour Bill in India,
saying it could legitimise family work and further disadvantage children from poor families.

The UN programme urged the removal of certain provisions of the bill and establishing a robust monitoring mechanism with a thorough list of hazardous occupations for a stronger
child protection framework.

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“Under the new Child Labour Act, some forms of child labour may become invisible and the most vulnerable and marginalised children may end up with irregular school attendance, lower levels of learning and could be forced to drop out of school,” UNICEF India’s Chief of Education Euphrates Gobina said.

“Secondary enrolment is still lagging behind, especially for the most vulnerable children, many who are working,” Gobina said.

While welcoming the recent approval by Rajya Sabha to amend the Child Labour Bill prohibiting children under the age of 14 from working, UNICEF India said it was concerned about a provision which stated that “where the child helps his family or family enterprises, which is other than any hazardous occupations or processes set forth in the Schedule, after his school hours or during vacations.”

This provision raises serious concerns as it not only legitimises family work but it also could further disadvantage the most vulnerable children from poor families, it said.

The amended Bill might substantially reduce the list of professions considered hazardous, potentially leading to more children working in unregulated conditions, it added.

In order to strengthen the Bill and provide a stronger and more protective legal framework for children, UNICEF India strongly recommended the removal of “children helping in family enterprises”, which will protect children from being exploited in invisible forms of work, from trafficking and from boys and girls dropping out of school due to long hours of work.

“Secondary enrolment is still lagging behind, especially for the most vulnerable children, many who are working,” Gobina said.

A robust monitoring mechanism was also urged to ensure that accountability of all stakeholders is essential, especially because there is no reference to trafficking of
children for work in the current Bill.

UNICEF India further suggested an exhaustive list of hazardous occupations to be included and a system be developed to periodically review the same, and include more occupations
as they emerge.

According to UNICEF, there are approximately 10.2 million children working in India.