Time to Listen to the Children
A network of NGOs, Social Workers and individuals working on child rights have been hosting the 'Time to Talk', an international Campaign in India from 2015. Consultations and children advisory committee meetings have been organised as a part of the 'Time to Talk' campaign to make children's voices heard and to get the perspectives of child workers on their work and life situation in the Global conference on child labour to be held in Argentina in November this year.
As a part of the campaign, a two day national consultation on child labour was organised with 65 children from 14 states and union territories in Delhi on April 29 and 30. During this, children were informed about the amendments made in the child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment act, 2016.
The child participants of the consultation who were earlier employed or are still working in different sectors, shared their experiences and demanded complete ban on child labour. And also demanded quality education to ensure a better childhood for others in similar situations.
Through group discussion and creative expressions children have formulated the following recommendations that were presented to the panel of representatives from the Government, International Labour Organisation, Media and other responsible authorities.
The following recommendations were given by children after a thorough review and discussion on the child labour (prohibition and regulation) amendment act, 2016:
A uniform definition of age of the child as "0-18 years" should be given in all the policies, legislation and Government documents in the country of India.
There can be no categorization of "Hazardous" and "Non-Hazardous" industries where children in the age group of 14 –18 years could work as work itself is hazardous for the growth and development of children below the age of 18 years.
Children cannot take up work after school hours as we need time to play, take rest and involve in other extracurricular activities.
Traditional arts and crafts should be offered as vocational course within the common school syllabus so the continuation of family's traditional occupation will not be the responsibility of few children.
We do not accept the penalty imposed on our parents. Rather we would request the Government to ensure employment and decent wages for the adults.
Omkar Sharma, Regional Labour Commissioner, accepted the children's view and said that it is right to consult and have more direct communication with children to get their opinion whenever government develops policies related to children.
Besides the recommendations on the child labour (prohibition & regulation) amendment act, 2016, children have given few key messages to be presented at the global conference:
Right of children to free and compulsory education act, 2009 should be extended up to 18 years and implemented 100 percent in line with the norms and rules in both private and government schools in all the states of India.
Participation of children to be ensured while drafting of all laws, policies, budget and programmes concerning children.
Principle of non-discrimination to be upheld as a key virtue in the country.
Government to take complete responsibility of ensuring the rights of children who are without families and protection.
The rights enshrined in UNCRC to be ensured to all children in the country considering that India has ratified the convention.