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Child labourers seek answers

Saturday June 11, 2011 09:34:34 PM, IANS

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Child labour continues -- unabatedly and shamelessly

Pramod is all of nine. His tender age, however, does not give him the luxury of a carefree and fun-filled life. He and his younger brother toil on the streets of Delhi, selling cigarette and other tobacco products for a living. 

New Delhi: Thirteen-year-old Ravi asked why policemen beat him up, doesn't he have a right to live with dignity? Like Ravi, there were many street children and child labourers who raised such disconcerting questions here Saturday - the eve of Anti-Child Labour Day.

"It is important to point out that despite a number of anti-child labour laws being in existence, the number of child labourers has been increasing in India. There is a lack of political will to implement these laws strictly," said Vijay of Badhte Kadam, a group of street and working children.

Badhte Kadam along with NGO Chetna organised a discussion on status of child rights in the country.

Ragpicker Chandani said: "There is hardly any child who knows about his or her rights. This is really sad that the government is not doing anything for us and is just making policies and laws. Do we deserve this?"

Like Chandani, street and working children from various parts of the capital posed questions to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Member Vinod Kumar Tikoo about their plight.

"The problem of child labour is no doubt a serious problem but these children will have to say no to labour. You will have to be firm that you will not work under any circumstances," said Tikko.

Addressing a gathering of these children at the Indian Social Institute, Tikoo said that apart from the government, civil society has an important role to play to root this problem.

Responding to a question by IANS about the rampant child labour in Delhi, Tikoo said: "Traffickers are coming and selling children from Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and the northeast. This happens because of poverty and we need some more time to root out this problem."

Tikoo urged the children to report to NGOs, working for street children, and police if they came across any incident of child labour.




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