What Is Child Labour?

Any child under the age specified by law worldwide works full time, mentally or physically to earn for own survival or adding to family income, that interrupts child’s social development and education is called “child labour”.

Any child under the age of 15 engaged in activity to feed family or self is “child labour”. ILO Convention 138 (C. 138) obligates countries to fix a minimum age for employment that should not be less than the age for completing compulsory schooling and, in any event, should not be less than 15 years. Developing countries may set the minimum age at 14. C-138 provides flexibility for countries to establish a younger minimum age of 12 or 13 for children to partake in “light work.”

Children’s participation in economic activity – that does not negatively affect their health and development or interfere with education, can be positive. Work that does not interfere with education (light work) is permitted from the age of 12 years under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 138. So child engaged in part time work to learn practical skill linked to social or inherited custom or crafts is not child labor. It becomes “child labour” only when child weaves carpet in a factory or factory; earns money to support family without schooling, social development. On the other hand if child works for 3-4 hours to learn or earn for self or parents after schooling, would not be known as child labour as is additional education and practical skill that a child learns.

Definition of elements of worst forms of child labour- all types of slavery, forceful hiring of children, commercial and sexual exploitation of children, hard working condition.

With the change of world order future education system would be more practical than present system of theory from books and notebooks. Each child would be encouraged to involve in practical education that gives skill to survive in competitive world. So, defining “education” becomes important to define “child labour”. Thus any child works for pleasure, leisure, pocket money, helping parents, hobby, aspiration, non hazardous part time work is not “child labour”. “Child labour” purely accounts when child is forced to work under slavery, poverty, parentless or social or parent’s boycott.

Types of child labour- Self employed and employed with others are two categories of child labour:

o Self employed- street sellers, rag or scrap pickers, street entertainers, child prostitution or pornography (but mostly they are hired by notorious gangs), begging, and other odd jobs. These types of children are mainly street children and rural migrants. Most these children are parentless, abandoned by parents, riot or war misery. The situation changes; in poor countries they are helping hand to the parents.

o Employed with others- factory or mine workers, domestic servants, child prostitution or pornography. Conducting work in other’s premises or in other’s custody. Such children work with parents consent or are parentless. Some are sold or some work to help parents to meet livelihood.