- One out of every 11 children in India is working.
- Census data by CRY (Child Rights and You), states that child labor has been decreasing at an abysmal rate of 2.2% per year from 2001 to 2011.
- 80% of working children are based in rural areas and 3 out of 4 work in agriculture as cultivators or in household industries, most of which are home-based employments.
- More than half of the 5.5 million children working in India are concentrated in five states—Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- Adolescents between 15 and 17 years old are doing hazardous work and form 62.8% of the overall child labor population.
- 56% of the working adolescents are no longer studying.
- More boys (38.7 million) than girls (8.8 million) are involved in hazardous work.
- The global number of adolescents working in hazardous conditions is greatest in India (2.4 million).
Those statistics were sure to have caught your attention! And that is just the beginning of the heartbreaking story of millions of child and adolescent laborer’s in India.
Child labor is prominent in rural India. 80% of working children live in India’s villages, where most of them are involved in agricultural labor. Some of them also work in household industries and are employed in home-based businesses. According to Census data, there are over 8.2 million child laborers’ (ages between 5 – 14 years) in India.
In May 2015, the Indian government amended its child labor laws allowing children below 14 to work in family businesses and the entertainment industry (excluding circuses) citing that this would help create “a balance between the need for education for a child and reality of the socio-economic condition and social fabric in the country.” The amendment also introduced a new definition of “adolescents”—children between 14 and 18 years of age—and barred them from working in any hazardous industry. Although these laws were meant to prevent some forms of child labor, there are still many teens working in dangerous conditions and they are the forgotten.
Where are they employed?
Children and teens are employed in textile industries, cotton-seed farming, mining, diamond industry, hotels and restaurants, household labor and more. Informal labor has increased and led to so many new home-based occupations that are emerging, making it all the more difficult to keep track. To add to this, many teens are being used for illegal activities such as drug peddling and liquor vending or transportation. This has become an invisible area where children have been employed and it is difficult for the government and agencies to track down. Between 2011 and 2012, the Crime in India Statistics reported a 40% increase in the number of cases booked against children under the Excise Act. These children work for breweries and are used by their employers to transport liquor. The sad truth is that these statistics figure in crime, but never child labor. Many of them end up in jails or institutions for juveniles when they should actually be treated as children requiring care and protection. Not surprisingly nearly 85% of child laborer’s in India are hard-to-reach, invisible and excluded, as they work largely in the unorganized sector, both rural and urban.
The Adolescent labor scenario
The existing focus on children up to 14 years old has sadly led to the neglect of those who are 14-18 years. Adolescents between 14-17 years engaged in hazardous work account for 62.8% of the entire child labor workforce in India. Over half of working adolescents do not go to school. This number is higher for adolescents doing dangerous work. It is not surprising that more boys than girls (38.7 million vs. 8.8 million) are forced into doing hazardous work.
According to a census taken in 2011, 1 out of every 10 Indian children are currently in the age bracket of 14-18 years, which amounts to more than 100 million children (11 per cent of the population). A majority of these adolescents have been forced to assume the role of adults, grappling with the reality poverty, economic and personal security, ill health, early marriage, lack of education and exploitative environments from an early age and not just in the society at large, but also at home. While legislations exist for protecting children up to 14 years, there is a significant dearth for teens between 14 – 18 years.
Often, people who look at adolescent laborer’s tend to think that it was a choice they made to drop out of school and be involved in employment for various reasons. This often results in teens being less likely candidates for sponsorship. But the truth is that these adolescents have experienced rough times right from a young age and desperately look for a ray of hope which would rescue them from years of pain and shattered dreams. These adolescents, just like younger children, are very much in need of someone who would choose to love them, someone who would care for them, someone who would give them a chance at the childhood that they had lost.
It is a well known fact that the future of a nation lies in the hands of today’s youth. Love One More has understood this well and is continuously striving to give these adolescents a chance at the life they deserve to enjoy. Love One More has been seeking out adolescents such as these who could be rescued, healed and given an opportunity to shine. If you would like to better understand the challenges faced by adolescent laborer’s in India and their deep cry for someone to rescue and love them, we invite you to consider sponsoring a pre-teen or teen. We invite you to partner with us to love one more and touch one more life that might impact the world tomorrow. Will you be the one to love the forgotten?