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New Delhi/Lucknow/Jammu &Kashmir June 18: To address the rising concerns post pandemic related to children facing the threat of being pushed into Child Labor Bal Raksha Bharat, a leading child rights organization launched a multi-pronged campaign aimed at on-ground activation, advocacy, and campaigning with stakeholders as a call to action on the issue of Child Labour and Child Trafficking.

The #ShramMuktBachpan launch was supported by Directorate of Women and Child Govt of NCT, Delhi, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights(DCPCR), Parliamentarians from BJP, Labor Dept Uttar Pradesh and WCD Uttar Pradesh.

The campaign is scheduled to roll out from 18th June 2021, commemorating World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) and culminating on 30th July 2021, i.e. on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDATiP) across North hub states i.e. Delhi, J&K & U.P.

The leading child rights organisation Bal Raksha Bharat, also organised a Regional Consultation during the launch during which Bal Raksha Bharat’s Child Champions voices from Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi were heard and the children shared their experiences of working in their states on issues of protection, drop out from education and increasing threat of Child Labor during the pandemic.

The children who attended included Gulsaba,(9yrs), Nisha(18yrs), Damini(16yrs) from Delhi, Tanu Arya(16 yrs) and Adarsh Kumar (16yrs) from UP and Sarmad Mansoor (15) Nhuamanullah Mir(16) from Jammu & Kashmir and demanded a fully dedicated helpline for children in vulnerable situation to share their problems and receive psycho-social counselling, detailed survey in UP/Delhi/J&K to identify children out of school and in Child Labor, a plan of action for Children in Street Situation involved in begging with special focus on girls on the streets.

Dr Rashmi Singh, Director DWCD, NCT & Delhi speaking on the occasion said, “Children constantly remind us that although there are various schemes developed for them they need to reach them aswell. The schemes and policies for child need to be developed with child’s lens and a holistic vision should be the approach, it is not right to divide issues based on what the child is facing at different stages of their lives.”

Anurag Kundu, Chairperson DCPCR, shared, “A strong enumeration of the number of children out of school is a must. If a child is not coming to school then it is obvious that he is pushed into child labor the legislations and Acts on education and child labor clearly define that but none of the states in the country are following that. We assume that if a child is into Child Labor poverty is the reason but that is not so DCPCR study on the reasons on why a child is not coming to school and is in child labor has enumerated a number of reasons including death of a loved one ill health of child or family member, incarceration of parents, disability of parents or child, death of the child himself. So we need to look at the attendance logs in schools and develop our mitigation strategy after enumeration of number of child out of school.”

Anil Bajpai, BJP MLA, from Gandhinagar Constituency East Delhi after listening to Bal Raksha Bharat Champion Speak invited them to work with BJP party workers in his constituency addressing issues being faced by children in his constituency. He took down issues being raised by all children present and promised to raise it in the Vidhan Sabha.

Puneet Mishra, Deputy Director WCD, GoUP shared with all present the efforts of Govt Of UP to address issues of children orphaned due to the pandemic and who faced the threat of trafficking and Child Labor and said, “The govt has started a support scheme for children orphaned due to the pandemic and a monthly stipend of INR 4000/- is being given to every such child apart from helping the get into schools to carry on their education.”

Syed Rizwan Ali, State Nodal Officer, State Resource Cell, Office of the Labour Commissioner, GoUP, added, “It is almost five years since the Child labour law was amended in the form of CLPRAA (2016) and implemented, however there is a lack of study or statistics, which would indicate on its effective implementation and help given in reduction of CL cases across the country and with a human resource crunch it is difficult to get an accurate idea of the magnitude of the number of children working as Child Labor. Although efforts are now on to conduct a detailed survey and develop state rules, an effective convergence between all NGOs and Govt is required to address the problem.”

The Regional Consultation and launch of campaign #ShramMuktBachpan also brought to fore the statistics shared by ILO of how the pandemic had pushed numbers of Child Labor in the past two years.

The most worrying trend revealed in ILO’s report states that The number of children engaged in labour has risen to 160 million (63 mn girls and 97 mn boys) worldwide accounting for almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide—an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years—with millions more at risk due to the impacts of covid-19.

India contributes to about 7.3% of that number. 79 mn i.e. almost half of them are performing hazardous work. And without mitigation measures, the number of children in Child Labour could rise from 160 mn in 2020 to 168.9 mn by end of 2022

Focussing on the ILO data, Yasmin Riaz Sudarshan Director RM, Bal Raksha Bharat India, summarises, “The pandemic has thrown up a huge challenge in terms of addressing issues that children will be facing. Statistics reveal that every 1% increase in challenges children face it will lead to 7% increase in child labor numbers. That’s why it is very important we take strong actions through the plans we devise to ensure children are safe and thriving despite the pandemic and the havoc it has wreaked on them.

To do that and more Bal Raksha Bharat and the Child Champions from Delhi/UP/J&K also shared the following asks to help and reach the most marginalised children facing threat of Child Labor:

  • for need for review of/development of ‘a state level Action plan for Abolition of CL’ in the light of Pandemic induced vulnerabilities of children and families and devise a road map especially for children in street situations
  • Activation & strengthening of watchdog mechanisms including community level monitoring mechanism in a rigorous manner viz. Child Protection Committees, District level task force on Child Labour and Anti Human Trafficking units
  • Emphasis on girl child education during pandemic, developing specific action plan engaging stakeholders to address the issue; continuity in learning for all children during pandemic

The Vote of Thanks was given by Jatin Mondar, Deputy Director Programme, Bal Raksha Bharat who summed up by calling for a consolidated action to combat Child Labor in Delhi, UP and J&K. He also said Bal Raksha Bharat will be happy to develop plan during the 50 day campaign that had been launched.

Also present at the Regional Consultation and Campaign Launch were, Rita Singh, former Member DCPCR, Sangeeta Sharma, Member CWC Lucknow, Shijan Thomas, State Coordinator-Delhi, Childline India Foundation, Ashok Kumar, National Advocacy Convener, CACL and govt and NGO stakeholders working to address Child Labor and Child Protection.

For more info please contact: Anjali Singh, #8953934777,
Email: Anjali.singh@savethechildren.in

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