There is so much of hue & cry about Child Labor, but there seems to be a small detail that everyone is missing. What is being done to ensure that a child who does not get employment (if he/she so desires) has other means of livelihood. The state run orphanages are synonymous to abuse and ill-treatment. How do we ensure we can pull the children out of the labor holes and also ensure they are taken care of? Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't believe children are supposed to be hired or treated like laborers. People who hire them to work in the factories/small industries dealing with toxic and harmful materials (Firecrackers, disassembling of hazardous waste - outdated electronics dumped from "developed countries", etc) should probably be flogged (except there is no room for "Vigilante justice" in our civilized society). But by saying they should not be hired and should not be working are we exposing to more exploitation by unscrupulous elements?
Imagine an orphan who has run away from one of these public orphanages. What is the way out for this kid? Either he turns back towards the orphanage and face the abuse (physical, emotional) or do a small time job. Now that the small time job is illegal either he will be exploited (by being paid lesser wages) or he will not get a job at all. Either case, we either make a beggar out of him, or we basically guide him towards crime.
The solution seems to be a overhaul of the system. Also, there needs to be a sensitization and education of the people who run orphanages. Are they qualified to run them in the first place? Do they know about the psychological impact of their actions on their young wards?
While there is no silver bullet (I wish there was), maybe its better to regulate and legalize the work options for kids (with supervision to ensure there is no exploitation) rather than ban it altogether?
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