India, neighbours join hands against child labour

June 12th, 2008 - 9:12 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) Representatives from Pakistan and Nepal joined India’s officials and members of civil society groups here Wednesday to demand concerted efforts to curb child labour across the subcontinent. Nepal’s representative, Dilli Bahadur Choudhary, noting that his country has no law against child labour, sought help from NGOs and other countries to put an end to the scourge of child labour in the Himalayan nation.

The sentiments were expressed at a meeting on the eve of World Anti-Child Labour Day, where the problem of child labour was discussed in depth and a book “Standard Operating Procedures - on investigation of crimes of trafficking for forced labour” was released.

The event was organised by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO working for the cause of child labour in India and South Asia.

Put together by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the book aims at sensitising people by providing information on how one can help in curbing child labour and help rescue a child worker. It covers topics like rescue procedures, and investigation and registration of the crime.

Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes, who was present at the event, said the government was doing its best to put an end to child labour.

“The government has taken two major steps to reduce child labour. One, by implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREG) so that parents don’t have to push their children to work because of poverty.

“Second is the mid-day meal scheme, which provides free food to children and gives them an incentive to go to school,” Fernandes said.

Although government cites the figure of about 12.5 million, child rights activists estimate the number of child labourers in India at close to 60 million.

Anees Jillani, chairperson of the NGO Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), stressed that poverty, child labour and illiteracy form a vicious circle, “which we need to break by spreading education”.

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