New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - Caritas India multiplies its commitment to counteract the plague of child labor in the country. According to the 2011 Census data, the total number of working children (between 5 and 14 years of age) in the country is 4.3 million, marking a decrease compared to over 12 million reported by the 2001 Census. A Unicef report of 2017 states that the percentage of children aged 5-9 increased proportionally from 15% in 2001 to 25% in 2011. According to Caritas India, the problem of children who work and do not attend school is "still a critical issue and a country like India should be ashamed".
In India, the phenomenon of child labor involves unstructured work sectors, both in rural and urban areas. As Fides learns, Caritas India supports a program in Darjeeling District in the state of Western Bengal, which aims to reach the goal of "Child Labor Free".
"If it succeeds, for the first time in India, the joint commitment of government and civil society will achieve this goal. The project could save at least 45 working children thanks to the collaboration of the Gram Panchayat (the "Local Council" governing the villages)", explains to Fides Anthony Chettri, Head of the Caritas India Program. "Every child-worker, if saved and cared for, can excel in life. Caritas India believes that, as a nation, we must guarantee childhood for a better future of our Country", says Chettri.
The Catholic Church in India does all it can to address the problem of child labor in the Country, particularly in terms of rescuing and rehabilitating young workers.
India has the highest number of young workers in the world.
In Andhra Pradesh, notes Caritas, there are nearly 400,000 working children, mostly boys between 7 and 14 years of age who work for 14-16 hours a day in the cotton production. In the District of Bellary, Karnataka, there is a high level of children who work in the textile sector in urban areas. A growing phenomenon is using children as domestic workers in urban areas. The entry of multinational companies inthe industrial sector has created the spread of child labor. And the laws that are intended to protect children are ineffective or are not properly applied. The conditions in which children work (often without food and very low wages) represent a situation of slavery. There are also cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of domestic workers.
Poverty and lack of social security - Caritas notes - are the main causes of child labor. According to the "Children's Rights Center", most child laborers belong to the lowest caste and poor families. The phenomenon is therefore closely linked to the Indian government's social and economic development policies. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/5/2017)