Child labour refers to a crime where children are forced to work from a very early age. It is like expecting kids to perform responsibilities like working and fending for themselves. Child labour takes away the kid’s opportunity of having a normal childhood, a proper education, and physical and mental well-being. In some countries, it is illegal but still, it’s a far way from being completely eradicated.Children around the world are routinely engaged in paid and unpaid forms of work that are not harmful to them. However, they are classified as child labourers when they are either too young to work, or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development. In the least developed countries, slightly more than one in four children (ages 5 to 17) are engaged in labour that is considered detrimental to their health and development. Child Labour happens due to a number of reasons. While some of the reasons may be common in some countries, there are some reasons which are specific in particular areas and regions. When we look at what is causing child labour, we will be able to fight it better. Firstly, it happens in countries that have a lot of poverty and unemployment. When the families won’t have enough earning, they put the children of the family to work so they can have enough money to survive. Similarly, if the adults of the family are unemployed, the younger ones have to work in their place. Also, when people do not have access to education, they will ultimately put their children to work. The uneducated only care about a short-term result which is why they put children to work so they can survive their present. Furthermore, the money-saving attitude of various industries is a major cause of child labour. They hire children because they pay them less for the same work as an adult. As children work more than adults and also at fewer wages, they prefer children. They can easily influence and manipulate them. They only see their profit and this is why they engage children in factories.Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour — one-fifth — and the absolute number of children in child labour — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures — 7% of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in this region. Did you know:
(a) he number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years.
(b) The agriculture sector accounts for 70% of children in child labour, followed by 20% in services and 10% in industry. (c) Child labour is more prevalent among boys than girls at every age but when 21 hours per week of household chores are taken into account, the gender gap in child labour narrows. (d) Child labour in rural areas stands at 14%, nearly three times higher than the 5% in urban areas.
Every religion has given the fundamental rights to every one, whether he is child, women, man or old man. Islam is a religion which is according to the human nature. The Holy Quran and Sunnah are the two basic sources for formulating Islamic laws and verifying them, and it is to them that all other sources refer. However, it is the Holy Quran that is the main reference and upon which the Sunnah is based. In this world, there are two basic necessities of man. On the one hand, he requires materialistic and physical resources for the establishment of the relation of body and soul, and on the other hand: for living an individual and social life at strong basis, ethical guideline is require for the man. For the fulfillment of this need of man, Allah has sent Prophets to mankind. These Prophets taught mankind the moral and ethical values and conveyed them the Message of Allah, that he is alone and everyone should worship him. And for the fulfillment of their physical necessities, Allah has given uncountable blessings to mankind. As Allah has said in Quran: Now, it is on man, how he uses these blessings. The basic teachings of Islam is to earn money through legitimacy sources. In Islam, it has been described, that earning is a thing, for which man is responsible. Actually it is the responsibility of man to earn money for the fulfillment of necessities of his family. Allah says in Quran: So, it is not the responsibility of children to earn money, they have a right to enjoy their childhood and get education. Islam has given facilities to children in prayers and in different matters. Muslims are aware about Child Labour and Quranic Teachings: Undoubtedly, that Allah does not give human beings too much pain which is more than their capacity.(Quran) So, from this Quranic Verse, we get to know that, to compel the children to work in hazardous sectors, like, chemical industries, agricultural sectors or mining secotrs is against the rules of Islamic teachings. Because doing in these sectors, is harmful for the mental and physical development of children: and working heavy tasks is a great burden on children and it is more than their capacity, so child labour is prohibited in Islam. From all these arguments, it is clear, that heavy tasks and laboured work, which is more than the capacity of child and a hurdle in the way of child to get education and it also affects its health would be against Islamic law. Islam has given the rights to children both male and female children. Children according to Islam, are entitled to various rights. The first and foremost of these rights is the right to be properly bought up, raised and educated. This means, the children should be given ethical, religious guidance. They should be taught what is wrong and what is right. Allah, says in the Quran: Children therefore are a trust given to parents. Parents will be responsible for this trust on the day of judgment. No doubt in it, that parents are responsible for moral, ethical and essential religious teachings of their children. Children have the right to be fed, clothed and protected till they grow up to adulthood. It is primarily, the duty of father to do that. Mother can provide help if necessary. Protection means to protect them from physical, moral and intellectual harm. Child has a right to get education, and this right has given Islam to them. It means Islam gives this responsibility to parents to educate them and fulfill their necessities of their life. So, children should not be compelled to work in hazardous sectors. Before, Islam, we see that children were given no respect, especially the female children and they were buried alive. But Islam eradicated this inhuman custom. The Islamic laws are applicable on attaining the adult age. Child should be given the proper atmosphere, where he can enjoy his childhood, or can get education, so he or she may become a good citizen of country. Children are innocent and they are flowers of heaven. That is why, Islam has given the order to pay mercy on them. The Holy Prophet said: So, children should be treated kindly and affectionately. Parents responsibilities for the children is that they should take care of their health. In Islam, it is the responsibility of father to bear the expenses of his family, and provide the basic facilities of life to them. A man can’t live alone. He like to live in a society. Every body in a society has a rights and responsibilities. Islam establishes, a kind of society, where everyone cooperates each other and takes care of other. The biggest reason of child labour is poverty. That is why, Islam has given us the teaching to help poor people, relatives and orphans. If any Muslim of the society, who is very poor, that he is unable to bear the expenses of his family and their children are compelled to work. In this situation people should come forward and help such poor families. In some conditions, child labour is permissible in Islam. Different scholars mentioned permissible conditions of child labour. Such as Imam Kasani says: Actually, he is of the view, that learning any kind of skill while working is the thing, that helps him for making him civilized and it is good for his physical exercise. It is said in favour of it, that Hazrat Ans, served the Holy Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H) for many years. Hazrat Ans said by himself that Through these arguments, the things come before us that services can be taken from young children. Strickness should not be applied on children, when they work. Work, that is given to the children should be according to their capacity. So, those kind of labour for children is permissible in Islam, which does not affect their health and education and which is according to their capacity and from which they can learn some art and skill. Islam has not given just the teachings but it establishes a system, where everyone can enjoy his rights. It given the practical system of Zakat, and imposes this responsibility upon the government to collect Zakat from rich ones and distribute it among poor people. It is the responsibility of our government to provide all facilities of life to its masses and should take some serious steps to eliminate the social evil of child labour. Poor children are compelled to work because of poverty, so government should eradicate this poverty, so children may enjoy their childhood and get education. Not only the government but also the public sector should take some serious steps for the removal of child labour by helping the poor people.
The theme of this year’s World Day Against Child labour is“Act now: End child labour!” The significance of this day is to pay attention to the problems of child labour and to find ways to eradicate it. The day is used to spread awareness about the harmful mental and physical problems faced by children forced into child labour, all over the world. Almost one in ten of all children worldwide are in child labour. While the number of children in child labour has declined by 94 million since 2000, the rate of reduction slowed by two-thirds in recent years. Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025. Unless the root causes of child labour are addressed, the problem will persist. Child labour is a vicious circle. If children do not have education opportunities, they will be unable to break out of the cycle of poverty and their communities will be unable to develop. Therefore, if we wish to eradicate child labour, we need to formulate some very effective solutions which will save our children. It will also enhance the future of any country dealing with these social issues. Following are some the suggestions that need to be taken into consideration: (i) If we make education free till age of 14 years and raise awareness among people, we will certainly be able to educate more and more children who won’t have to do child labour. Moreover, making people aware of the harmful consequences of child labour is a must. (ii) Establishing more organisations that solely work to prevent child labour. It should help the children indulging in this work and punish those who make them do it. (iii) Some people are never employed to torture or molest, but their situation makes them search for work. These children are either homeless or family-less. We can manage to adopt such children or we can at least get them admitted to school as a kind gesture from their side. (iv) According to Indian laws, any child who is less than fourteen years in age can’t be employed anywhere and at any place as a child labourer. If you see anyone doing this act, you can easily file a complaint report against them by reaching the nearest police station. (v) One of the important steps to making the society child labour free is to know yourself 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. (vi) Employment opportunities must be given to people in abundance so they can earn their livelihood instead of putting their kids to work. Children are the future of our country; we cannot expect them to maintain the economic conditions of their families instead of having a normal childhood. (vii) Many times, there are children working around us with their parents also in the vicinity. This gives us a brilliant chance to talk to these parents about the serious implications that child labour has on children, in long run. Try counselling the parents of these children and persuade them to take the children out of work and enrol them in schools instead, thus helping the children move towards a different and better future. (viii) A touch of individual financial help is always supported. Complaint against child labour is a way of eradicating it, but it does not eradicate the wound of that child which is homeless or who needs money. We should help such children with the help of NGOs or we should help them financially in order to support them in becoming a good person in future. (ix) Ending child labour requires immediate action, accelerated motivation and collaborative partnerships at all levels. It robs children of their right to an innocent childhood. So do your bit to stop it by making informed decisions and spreading awareness…!! The worst forms of child labour involve children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities often at a very early age. According to ILO the latest Global Estimates indicate that 152 million children — 64 million girls and 88 million boys — are in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in 10 of all children worldwide. Nevertheless, children are pivotal means to progress. It is high time to attend to the needs and rights of children not as a mere product of progress but as a means to progress itself. Concluding the article with this beautiful quote by Craig Kielburger:
(Dr. Bilal A. Bhat is an Associate Professor SKUAST Shalimar Srinagar and Afreen Niyaz, a Research Scholar at Kashmir University Srinagar. Views are their own)