When i think of my childhood days, i think of playing football, i think of playing in the rain, i think of the summer holidays, i think of the first day of school after summer holidays, i think of the new school dress, new notebooks , new textbooks all labelled with brown covers on. Of course, it was not a perfect childhood, i had my good days and bad days, but the good days outnumbered the bad days. What i consider bad days, was when i got yelled by my father or by my teacher, but nothing dramatic or drastic.
Now the reason i often i think of my childhood is that my 3 year old kid. Watching her play, watching her talk, watching her fight with me, often brings back memories of my childhood. Of course, my 3 year old is much more advanced in terms of how she thinks, she behaves, she talks and acts.
This is me and my kid.
Now someone asked me, do I support child labor or not ? Before I could give a big “NO” , the question was rephrased as , do I support child labor , if he/she is the earning member of the family and is critical for their day to day survival. I was tempted to say “Yes”, but then i hesitated. I can’t even bear a scratch on my daughter, how can i be supportive of another child working , doing hard labor to support his/her family.
So the big question now is, if that kid who is financially contributing to support the family, is stopped from working , then who would take care of the family. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to this. It’s the collective responsibility of the community, the society, the government to ensure opportunities are provided to such families so they can improve their financial conditions and are able to support their children’s education at the least. That’s the only way out, that it has to be a collective effort. But definitely the change has to come with in us. If we continue to accept the reality of the child labor then we can never change the situation or at least attempt to change it.
However, it’s easy said than done. Back home in India , I know someone, who have a kid who is in her 9th standard and helps with the daily chores. Of course , they pay for her tuition and help with her education. They argue that if they stop taking her services, then she might go to someone else and they may not even pay for her education. Her situation could even be worse. So it’s not just a matter of ethics and morality , it’s a matter of reality.
While we are fighting this fight of eradicating the child labor, we must also not distant ourselves from the reality. Having said that, our first priority should always be saying NO to CHILD LABOR. It’s the only way , things can change.
Think about this, when one thinks about kids, one thinks about how cheerful and playful they are , but not how hard working they are. Just look at the below statistics ( source: indiatogether.com )
So the next time we say a child at work, Let’s stop and think and think hard and see if we can make a difference.
|Children of Age Group (5-14 years)|
|Activities||Number of Children (%)||Number of Children (in 100’s)|
|Children engaged in “economic activities”||4.18||3.86||4.02||52967||45618||98392|
|Attended domestic duties only||0.30||3.15||1.67||3770||37208||40788|
|Attended domestic duties plus free collection of goods, tailoring, weaving for HH only||0.25||1.92||1.06||3178||22693||25897|
|Children at Work||4.73||8.93||6.75||59915||105519||165077|
|Children neither at work nor at school||17.26||20.42||18.80||218889||241255||460205|