Activists cheer child labour prohibition in circusesApril 18th, 2011 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) Welcoming the Supreme Court’s direction to the central government Monday to ensure that no children are employed in circuses, NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), on whose petition the order was issued, said it was a step in the right direction.
“We are very happy with the Supreme Court’s decision. Now the only concern is its enforcement. We have a number of very good laws and legislations which exist only on the paper. Without enforcement, these laws hold no good,” Bhuwan Ribhu of the BBA told IANS.
The Supreme Court Monday directed the government to issue a notification prohibiting employment of children in Indian circuses.
BBA had drawn the court’s attention to the widespread prevalence of child labour in India, including in circuses, and also the issue of trafficking in children.
“In 2002, BBA made the first attempt to understand the extent of child labour in circuses and the result was startling. We covered 30 major circuses. Although there are no exact figures, we found that there are 15-20 children employed in every circus and most of them are girls,” Ribhu said.
The main reason for the absence of any concrete figure, he said, was there is no regulation of circuses.
“The Indian Circus Federation is hardly a representative body since it represents less than 10 percent of the circuses. The last I know, there were 17 circuses registered with it,” Ribhu said.
Talking about the plight of children, he said: “Most children in the circuses are sourced from Nepal and the northeastern states. We found that there is immense physical and sexual abuse and the circus is like a fortress for them. Most of the time, they don’t even know where they are.”
The apex court bench of Justice Dalbir Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma said: “In order to protect the fundamental rights of these children under Article 21 of the constitution, we direct the centre to issue suitable notification prohibiting their employment in circuses”.
The apex court said the children being rescued should be kept in separate rooms or after due verification may be handed over to their parents if they were willing.
It also directed the human resource development and the women and children development ministries to prepare a scheme for rehabilitation of the rescued children. The court said the ministries will have to file compliance reports before June 19.
The court is seized of many cases involving child labour and child trafficking, and said it will take these up on issue-to-issue basis in order to deal the with the problem.