COVID-19 Impact on Child Labor by Tathagata Ghosh

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the world in ways previously unseen. While its socio-economic impact may vary from country to country, it is likely to increase poverty and inequalities on a global scale. As people fall deeper into poverty, children may be pushed into the labor market to support their families. COVID-19 may increase child labor in the following ways:
The pandemic has led to schools shutting down. Despite the arrangement of online classes, many children, especially those from rural and disadvantaged regions, are unable to attend classes due to a lack of internet and technology.
Public health measures such as curfews will reduce migration of labor leading to a demand for local workers including children as a stop-gap measure.
Indian states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have, for some time, relaxed some of the conditions in labor laws to recover the economy. These include increased work hours and reducing protection clauses and inspection requirements. The absence of inspection requirements may lead to an increase in child labor.
Due to the dip in the economy, many industries may prefer employing a child over an adult due to the wage differences.
Children of migrant families could get engaged in agriculture, harvesting, and other small-scale family enterprises, resulting in the misuse of the 2016 Amendment of Child Labour Law that allows children up to 14 years of age to work select ‘non-hazardous’ family enterprises.
A 2018 study by DHL International GmBH estimated that more than 56 million children were out of school in India — more than double the combined number across Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Of those children not in school, 10.1 million are working, either as a ‘main worker’ or as a ‘marginal worker’. The Human Rights Watch has recommended some smart policy choices that governments can follow to protect children. Some of them are providing financial assistance for families hit hardest by the crisis, supporting decent employment for adults, ensuring primary and secondary schools are truly free and removing financial barriers to attending, and finding innovative ways to monitor child labor, including remote reporting, to hold employers accountable.
The United Nations called for putting an end to child labor in all forms by 2025. The last two decades have seen significant strides in the fight against child labor. But the COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking.

One Reply to “COVID-19 Impact on Child Labor by Tathagata Ghosh”

  • Yes, your article is absolutely worrisome for the children and their conditions during the time of COVID, and the further implcations of COVID on child labour. It briefly and beautifully points out the problems which a child is facing during this pandemic.

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