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I recently completed a class project on child labour. I will be publishing it in its entirety on the blog.


“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.”
-Kofi Annan

One in every five children aged 5 to 17 in the world today is involved in child labour, doing work that is damaging to his/her mental, physical and emotional development. These children risk their health and their lives and mortgage their lives as future adults.

These children work in a variety of industries, and in many parts of the world. The vast majority are in the agricultural sector, where they may be exposed to dangerous chemicals and equipments. Others are street children, peddling or running errands to earn a living. Some are domestic workers, prostitutes, or factory workers. All are children who have no fair chance of a real childhood, an education or a better life.
Children work because their survival and that of their families depends on it. Child labour persists even where it has been declared illegal, and is frequently surrounded by a wall of silence, indifference and apathy.

In totality there are estimated to be about 218 million child labourers. Of these 73 million working children are less than 10 years old. The realization of the full potential of a nation is closely wound with the quality of human capital it has. But when such large numbers of children are forced to work instead of study, the nation’s growth is stunted.

Child labour is often thought of as endemic to the underdeveloped parts of the world. But the sad truth is that no country is immune. There are 2.5 million working children in the developed countries and another 2.5 million working in the transition economies.

India is one of the worst affected countries. Conservative estimates peg the number of child workers at 20 million. For a country with aspirations of being seated at the high table of global economic powers, this is one problem that cannot be swept under the carpet.


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