Kolkata: The recent amendments sowed to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2012, “legalizing use of child labor in such family businesses have not reaped good fruits.
Reports note that more than 60 per cent of children working in family-run enterprises are likely to drop out of school. The report was based on a survey conducted in West Bengal.
The study conducted by the Action Aid Association and People’s Participation in two municipalities of North 24 Parganas district involved 90 children in the age group of 6 to 14. The study was titled “”Impact on Overall Development of Children Working in Family Enterprises”.
As per reports, the family run enterprises included kite-making, dairy and allied enterprises (making cow dung cakes), candy-making, poultry, hotel/dhaba, rag picking and waste segregation.
“Its major findings indicated that the physical and mental health of children working in family enterprises was “negatively impacted” along with school attendance, recreation and overall developmental rights,” said Dipankar Mitra from People’s Participation.
The study also proved that the possibility of the younger ones in the house discontinuing education before the age of 18 years was extremely high. This was mostly seen in families where children discharge double roles of being students and well as laborers.
Meanwhile the study also showed that there were instances wherein the parents, or legal guardians do not own the enterprise.
“It was found that in many instances, parents or legal guardians do not own the enterprise but it is owned by a relative living in the same native village. So the definition of a family enterprise is not clear,” said Dipankar Mitra.
The union cabinet in May 2015 approved provisions to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill 2012 which proposes banning all kinds of Child labour under the age of 14. However, there is an exemption — children below the age of 14 cannot be employed anywhere except in non-hazardous family enterprises or the entertainment industry, but only after school hours and during vacations. This would enhance the vulnerability of children working in family run business.
“The amendment has also relaxed the penal provisions for parents or guardians, who were earlier subjected to the same punishment as the employer of the child. Though the proposed amendment recognizes the children in 15-18 age group and prohibits their engagement in any kind of hazardous occupation but it has limited its scope by defining this age group as adolescents’ and not as children,” he added.