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Forced child labour, child trafficking in India

According to The International Labour Organization (ILO) 168 million children worldwide are considered child laborers. This means that 11 percent of the world’s children are working, which interferes with their ability to get an education, and risks their safety and their ability to experience childhood. The largest number of laborers in the 5 to 17-year-old age group is still found in the Asia-Pacific region.

India’s 2011 census reports there are 8.2 million child laborers in the 5-14-year-old age group. Civil society organizations have reported that figure to be much higher.

India’s garment sector employs about 40 million workers directly and 60 million indirectly, and is the second largest provider of employment, after agriculture. India’s overall textile exports are currently estimated at around $108 billion and are expected to reach $223 billion by 2021.

India’s 2011 census reports there are 8.2 million child laborers in the 5-14-year-old age group. Civil society organizations have reported that figure to be much higher, and have reiterated the presence of trafficked children and children in forced labor in India’s garment sector, working across all supply chains in cotton fields, mills, factories, and home-based operations.

Despite these high figures, a number of national legal frameworks surrounding human trafficking and forced child labor have been put in place in India since independence.

However, the 1986 Act deals only with the organized sector, which accounts for only 10 percent of the child labor force, leaving the other 90 percent in the unorganized urban and rural sectors and family units outside of the Act’s regulations. In response to ongoing criticism, India’s government strengthened the Act last year, establishing that “no child (under the age of 14) shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or process, with the exception if that child helps his family or family enterprise in non-hazardous occupations or processes, after school hours, or during school holidays.

Due to the lack of strict enforcement of the existing laws there has been exploit young women, girls, and children through trafficking and exploitative work conditions.

 
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