The Normalised Sin of Innocence: An Opinion and Reflection on Child Labour
Child labour is something that earlier I never perceived as a major crime due to the social
normalisation of it. But a few years ago with my exposure to some really good movies based
on the aspirations of a child, namely – Dhanak, I am kalam and Lakshmi along with an
excerpt from an Anees Jung book titled Lost Spring, Stories of Stolen Childhood. My
perception and understanding of child labour completely changed. It was disturbing to know
that the primary happiness of our life being a child was taken by the majority as something
for granted, but in reality there were million of children for whom the magical lines of the
song by Late Jagjeet Singh (Ye daulat bhii le lo, ye shoharat bhii le lo, Bhale chhiin lo
mujhase merii javaanii, Magar mujhako lautaa do bachapan kaa saavan, Vo kaagaz kii
kashtii, vo baarish kaa paanii) was the biggest horror. It may sound harsh, rude and even
some may accuse me of disrespecting one of our favourite songs ever, but in reality, many
children never even got the chance to try making a paper boat and enjoy the rain. My whole
perspective of child labourers changed from a child working to earn to a childhood being
Reflection has been the most productive activity for me in this campaign, It gives a unique
opportunity to an individual by providing a platform and an exposure to reach out to aware
and educate the masses towards a developed nation and refined society. The method
employed by me for this activity was participant observation with a sample of size of ten. It
consisted of six adults from unprivileged backgrounds that didn’t have enough opportunities
and four adults from privileged backgrounds.
Feedback (Understanding the perspective)
The unprivileged adults generally started working with an average age of fourteen,
the one-third of them had attended school, but only till middle school that is class eighth.
The primary reason that they stopped going to school was the lack of breadwinner in the
family. Further they were never able to break the shackles of poverty to even dream to study
again. The effect of not being educated has been huge in their life with not being able to catch
up with modern policies and initiatives of government to uplift them due to lack of education.
They have also been fooled by many in the name of certain incentives resulting in their
financial loss. They all felt that education would have been the key to access better
opportunities asserting how they have seen individuals being educated and living a good life.
They aim the same for their children. They have availed some governmental schemes, but
with certain commissions to the provider, but mostly many schemes they haven’t availed as
they aren’t aware or educated enough to enquire about it.
The privileged adults were not aware of child labour laws, they were totally clueless about
it. They assumed that the child labours are mostly employed in road-side eateries and for
domestic work. I was shocked, but not surprised when they confidently claimed of using
products free of child labour, but when I showed them few videos of how famous companies
employ child labour they realised their mistake. All of them had witnessed child begging or
working and they hadn’t done anything concrete, but they added that they did feel emphatic
towards them but did not take any action. They all knew people who had hire child labour as
their domestic help. They all agreed that poverty can be a justified reason for a child to work.
The conversation with my respondents was really enlightening to know that how still child
labour is normalised in the society, with poverty being the most famous smokescreen. Indeed,
poverty was a cause for the unprivileged respondents to work, but it was the social
discouragement and lack of awareness that was the real reason behind it. We all have to
remember that we live in a democracy with a policy structure based on the welfare state that
provides education, incentives and even food to the poor of the poorest. It’s not poverty, but
our efforts towards normalising child labour behind the curtains of poverty or any other
excuse that has resulted in 152.1 million child labourers worldwide and 40.3 million children
in forced labour. Only eight countries in the world have more population then the total
number of child labourers. It’s now or never to introspect ourselves and think why childhood
is also not free, and our lack of efforts that has resulted in the biggest human decay ever. Let
us pledge our support to end child labour by awareness for the unaware and educating the
uneducated because every child deserves the innocence and joy of childhood.