New Delhi, Jun 11: Various rights groups have urged the government to hold a public consultation on the proposed amendments to the Child Labour Bill, which they warned will end up legitimising economic exploitation of children and rob them of their childhood.
They have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a public consultation on the amendments and called for the removal of the provision seeking to legitimise use of children under 14 years as labour in family enterprises out of their school hours and during vacation.
'The Campaign For Child Protection' today held a discussion here on the Bill and its proposed amendments which was organised by Apne Aap Women Worldwide and the Indian School for Women's Studies and Development.
Explaining the concerns, Ruchira Gupta, Founder, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, said, "We work with children of de-notified tribes and other caste communities suffering from intergenerational prostitution, some of whom are traditional entertainers.
"They are trafficked for nautanki, nautch and cabaret in travelling cattle fairs in northern and eastern India as well as sexually exploited in home-based brothels. "This amendment will give impunity to their traffickers, who will claim 'dancing' is a family enterprise."
The Cabinet on May 13 had approved an amendment in the 1986 Child Labour Act for allowing children under 14 years to work in non-hazardous industries run by family, including agriculture and home-based work, forest gathering, etc.
The amendment also allows children to work in audio-visual and entertainment industry, including advertisements, films, television serials or any other entertainment, which can include traumatic and hazardous situations, without specifying the regulation required for this.
"The amendments will depress the wages of adults, who will be substituted for children and decrease labour standards for both, leading to new forms of slavery," said Kiran Moghe, member of Indian School for Women's Studies and Development.
According to UNICEF, out of 200 million children enrolled, 80 million are likely to drop out before the completion of elementary education. Over 40 per cent of these dropouts are from the minority communities, backward classes and scheduled castes of India, says the National Sample Survey Organisation.
"The Right to Education of all marginalised children will be diluted as these children will be pressured to work at home or perform in the entertainment industry to increase income for their families," added Malini Bhattacharya, President of All India Democratic Women's Association.
The 2011 Census says that 4.35 million children between 5 to 14 years are working as child labourers. The rights groups claimed that the Bill, along with the Land Acquisition Act, will increase bonded labour, something that will impact children.