Bhopal: Amendments to child labour law could be "misused", says Satyarthi

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: May 16, 2015 22:43 IST

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi said in Bhopal on Saturday that Union Cabinet's recent nod to the amendments to the child labour law allowing children below the age of 14 to work in select 'non-hazardous' family enterprises, could be "misused" unless the ambiguous term 'family' is clearly defined.

He said that the family should only include parents and in case the child is on orphan, his legal guardian.

Satyarthi, who was in Bhopal, said this while addressing a press conference in his home state.

"When this amendment will be tabled in the Parliament, I will be in better position to comment on this issue. But from my experience, the ambiguity of the term 'family' could be misused. I have myself been attacked when I went to rescue a child labourer, with owner claiming that the child was his nephew and it was none of my business in meddle in his family issues. I talked to the union labour minister on this issue of ambiguity regarding 'family' today on phone. I will talk to the prime minister also once he returns", he said.

Satyarthi said that he has been pushing for four demands when it came to laws related to child labour.

"First, there should be complete ban on child labour till 14, ban on the employment of children between 15 to 18 years in hazardous industries, quick penalty on violators of this legislation and guaranteed rehabilitation by the government of every child labourer rescued", he said.

When questioned on his take on Union Cabinet approval to the proposed changes in the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 allowing trial of juveniles between 16-18 years as adults if they are involved in heinous crimes, Satyarthi said there have been heinous crimes in which 17 or 18 year old youths have raped and killed minors.

He said that in case of such crimes, the juveniles should be kept for a longer period in the rehabilitation homes, otherwise they would again go for such crimes after few months of remaining in such homes . He however said they should not be kept with the regular criminals.

Satyarthi said that on Monday he will be leaving for United Nations World Education Forum 2015 to be held from May 19-22 May in Korea, where he will raise two pressing issues.

Referring to the attacks, kidnappings, killings and rapes of minors in Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria and so on, Satyarthi said that terrorists and those who believe in the cult of violence have recognised the fact that if children are educated, they cannot succeed in spreading religious hatred and indoctrination of the young kids.

"Six crore children are still out of schools. It will take just 22,00 crore dollars to educate children across the world. It will take four and half days defence budget of all nations and one sixth of what US spends on buying tobacco products to fund education of children across the world", he said.

Satyarthi said still 17 crore child labourers need to be rescue from across the globe.

"It is not because they are poor, they are child labourers. It is the other way round. Because they are child labourers, they are poor. We cannot celebrate our successes until we rescue all of them and provide them education, which is their birth right", he said.

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