Child labour – Kerala by Sudheera K

CHILD LABOUR- KERALA

Kerala has a very low incidence of child labour, in spite of widespread poverty and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Census figures show that there were 1.11 lakh child labourers in Kerala in 1971, 92,854 in 1981, 34,800 in 1991 and 26,156 in 2001.
A survey by Union Ministry of Human Resources development showed that the number of Children not attending schools in Kerala in 2009 was only 15,800. But this went up to 33,200 in 2014, an increase of 110% in 5 years. As per the census report of 2011, the number of children in the age group of 5-14 years engaged in work was 45,400 in 2011, an increase of 74% compared to 2001. Officials are however blaming it on the increase in migrant workforce in the state.
According to 2011, the highest number of working children is in Thiruvananthapuram (7,378) followed by Malappuram (5,023), Kollam (3,549) and Kasargode (3,540). The number is lowest in Wayanad (1254), followed by Pathanamthitta (1463), Idukki (2204) and Kottayam (2311).

Kind of Industries

Though there is a large proportion of children employed in the farm and agriculture industry of the country, it is not the case with Kerala. Most of the children are employed in non foam industries in Kerala.Within non-farm jobs, children are increasingly working in the services sector. Services, which covers jobs in domestic work, hospitality and entertainment, is now the biggest non-farm employer of children with 30% of all non-farm child workers, followed by manufacturing (6%) and construction (2%). This is a change from 2001—when services and manufacturing both had near equal share of children workers.According to 2011-2016 reports, children have been rescued from construction sector, small hotels in East Fort, small scale industries, domestic helps and newspaper delivery. Bonded labour has been found in the Plywood industry.

Government schemes

Sarana balyam is a kerala govt scheme by dept of women and child development for identifying and rehabilitating children being used for child labour and begging.
Under the Sarana Balyam scheme for getting rid of child labour and child begging, 279 children had been sent to safer places since November 2018, Ms. Shylaja said. The maximum number of children rescued were from Pathanamthitta (36) and Idukki (35) districts.
Sarana Balyam was launched in November 2016, and two years later were expanded across the State. DNA testing through the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology to help rescued children unite with their families was being done under the scheme.

Number of children rescued

Under the Sarana Balyam scheme for getting rid of child labour and child begging, 279 children had been sent to safer places since November 2018, Ms. Shylaja said. The maximum number of children rescued were from Pathanamthitta (36) and Idukki (35) districts.
Sarana Balyam was launched in November 2016, and two years later were expanded across the State. DNA testing through the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology to help rescued children unite with their families was being done under the scheme
The labour department had conducted 1,161 rescue interventions in 2017 and rescued 111 children. In 2017-18, 114 rescue interventions were made in the state and 20 children were rescued and four cases were registered against employers. Through the 107 rescue interventions during 2018-19, four children were rescued and cases were registered against two employers, a member of KeSCPCR said. Childline has recorded 155 interventions in 2017-18 and 140 interventions in 2018-19 to rescue child labourers in the state.
According to state crime records bureau against child labour, 15 children were rescued in 2017, 50 rescued in 2018 and 22 rescued till 2019 May 31.

About the Children

Migrant workers contribute the most to the child labour records of Kerala. These children hail from other states especially the nearby ones. Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Bihar are the main states from where these children are brought from.

COVID scenario

There are concerns that the social issue of child labour would increase in the state after the COVID pandemic. The ongoing financial crisis would compel the children to engage in labour.The elder children of the financially backward families are mostly compelled to go for work and this will affect their studies.
Within 2 years, 225 children were rescued through ‘Saranabalyam’ project from child labour,begging and other forms of exploitations. The organization assumes that there are many children engaged in child labour without being noticed. The volunteers of saranabalaym project stated that inspection will be intensified coordinating with various departments in order to prevent child labour after lockdown.

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