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child-labour_200Washington: Large scale child labour persists in India, mostly in the agricultural sector and the informal economy despite initiatives by the government and instances of commercial sexual exploitation of minors are oft reported, a US report on the issue said on Wednesday.
According to the India section of the annual report of the Department of Labor, children are exploited in the worst forms of child labour with a majority working in agriculture, including in the production of rice and hybrid seeds.
Children who work in agriculture may carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides, it said.
India has increased funding for and coordination of an extensive network of programmes to address the worst forms of child labour, but the menace persists particularly in agriculture and informal economy, said the report.
Only in India
“Forced child labour exists in domestic service, agriculture, and manufacturing. India lacks a minimum age for work and sets a low age for hazardous work, hindering efforts to address the problem,” the report said.
A large number of children also work in the informal economy, with child labour increasingly found in home-based production rather than organised factory settings.
Children are also found engaged in work on the streets which may include vending food and other goods, repairing vehicles and tyres, scavenging and rag picking, shoe shining, car washing, and begging, besides in construction and domestic service, it said.
“Most children working in domestic service are girls aged 12 to 17 but some are reportedly as young as age 5 or 6. Many work very long hours and suffer abusive treatment.
“Waste picking is prevalent among children in castes and tribes that have traditionally suffered from societal discrimination,” the report said.
The document said there are reports that “children have been recruited to serve as soldiers by armed opposition groups in zones where armed conflict is occurring, such as in Chhattisgarh”.
Service industries that employ children include hotels, food service, and tourism, and children also quarry sandstone and other material, break stones, and polish gems.
It also cites children being involved in manufacturing matches, bricks, carpets, locks, glass bangles, fireworks, bidis, footwear, garments, brassware, and other metal goods.
Noting that the commercial sexual exploitation of children remains a problem, the report said an estimated 1.2 million children engage in prostitution.
“Cases of child sex tourism continue to be reported. India is a source, transit and destination country for minors trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour in domestic service, agriculture and activities such as begging, driving cycle rickshaws and hotel services,” it said.