According to U.S. DOL, India has the largest number of urban and rural child workers in the world. The Government of India acknowledges at least 17.5 million working children, but estimates by various organizations range from 44 million to over 100 million child workers. Major export industries with child labor include hand-knotted carpets, gemstone polishing, brass and base metal articles, glass and glassware, footwear, textiles and silk, and fireworks. Children are also exploited as bonded laborers, particularly in the carpet industry.

Other industries in India alleged to use child labor are: locks; leather; pottery; granite, mica, slate mining and quarrying; auto parts and accessories; cashew processing; coir (coconut fiber) products; iron and steel products; wood, rattan, and walnut furniture; suitcases and trunks; sports goods; garments; tile; and shrimp and seafood processing.

Ending Child Labor in Mica Mines in India and Madagascar

By Katarzyna Rybarczyk 

Most people use products containing mica daily, without realizing what the story behind their production is. Mica is a mineral commonly found in products such as cosmetics, paints, and electronics. For most people living in the West, mica is simply something that makes these products shiny. However, extracting mica is often linked to the worst forms of child labor.

India and Madagascar are the two largest exporters of sheet mica globally, with most mica mining happening in illegal mines. The two countries are also the most associated with using children to extract the mineral.

Areas where mica mines are located struggle with high poverty rates, so mining mica is often the only thing that lets families put food on the table and survive. With families struggling to earn a living, children often have to supplement their parents’ income.

As mica mining is unregulated and, for the most part, thrives in hiding, there are many dangers associated with it.

The scale of the problem

The majority of illegal mica mines in India are located in just two states Bihar and Jharkhand, which are among India’s most impoverished. The governance there is weak, so the industry is subject to few, if any, regulations and labor exploitation of both adults and children occurs frequently.

It is estimated that 22,000 children work in mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, but as mines that employ children do not report it, giving the exact numbers is impossible.

According to the findings of the US Department of Labor, in Madagascar, around 10,000 children work in the mica sector.… Read the rest

Holiday Shopping? Some Strategies to Consider if you are Concerned about Child Labor and Want to Shop Responsibly

With the holidays approaching and many Americans scrambling to buy presents, we get many questions from consumers who are interested in shopping responsibly. Newly released data suggests that there are about 40 million individuals in forced labor and 152 million children who are trapped in child labor in the world today. How can one avoid buying products that may contribute to this rampant exploitation?

The U.S. Department of Labor “Sweat and Toil” app provides valuable advice to consumers about products made with child labor and forced labor.

Unfortunately, there is no clear and simple answer. The supply chains of many companies have multiple layers of production–even reaching into people’s homes–and it’s extremely difficult to monitor this work at all the levels.

Fortunately, there are some tools out there to help consumers. One of the best is the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Sweat and Toil” phone app. It informs consumers about 130-plus goods that are produced with child labor or forced labor. It will also tell consumers which countries produce those goods and then ranks those countries on how well their efforts to reduce child labor are going. You can access this information on your computer by clicking here. More than 1,000 pages of valuable information is contained on the site.

If you are about to go clothes shopping, you can quickly look up which countries have been identified as producing clothes with child labor: Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. Seven countries used forced labor to produce garments—you’ll have to go to the site or use the app to figure out which ones. It’s actually remarkably easy to use. Please down load the “Sweat and Toil” app now—before you forget!

The site and app will help you learn some of the most common products of child labor. Gold, for example, is produced by child mining in 21 countries. Cotton or cottonseed in 18 countries. Coffee is produced by child labor in 16 countries. The data, unfortunately has some limitations. For the most part, it does not list assembled products. For example, many of the metals and minerals that help make your smart phone and the batteries that help it work are on the list, but assembled cell phones are not.

Consumers looking to buy handmade carpets should look for the GoodWeave label to ensure that rugs are not made with child labor.

We get a lot of questions about product labeling. Why can’t consumers buy a product labelled “child-labor free?”  GoodWeave, a nonprofit member of the Child Labor Coalition, issues labels that help consumers buy carpets (and coming soon other products) that are child-labor free. GoodWeave has strict standards and inspection systems, that reach every worker from the factory to village to home. When they find child labor they eliminate it and provide remediation and long-term rehabilitation for the former child laborers. Their programs go well beyond others, ensuring communities across South Asia are “child friendly” and that all children are going to school and learning. It wasn’t that long ago that there were one million children weaving hand-made carpets under slave-like conditions. That number today is believed to be less than 200,000. GoodWeave has transformed the lives of thousands of children in partnership with over 150 brands and retailers. In a few years, we may have several more product lines that we can say with some certainty are child-labor free.

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Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi Applauds Indian Government for Ratifying Conventions 182 and 138

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi applauds Government for ratifying ILO Conventions 182 and 138; Calls it a historic step

On March 31, 2017, Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi welcomed the Government of India’s decision to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Convention 138 on the Minimum Age of Employment.

2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has long been a collaborator of the Child Labor Coalition

2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has long been a collaborator of the Child Labor Coalition

Commenting on the ratification, Mr Kailash Satyarthi, the Honourary President of Global March Against Child Labour said: “I congratulate the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Labour and Employment on this historic reform. India’s decision for ratification of Convention 182 and Convention 138 was long overdue in providing justice to our children. After the total prohibition of child labour this is yet another important step in protecting all our children from exploitation and abuse. It now remains a collective responsibility of everyone to do their bit to scourge of child labour from the country. This remarkable moment also provides with an opportunity for the country to make renewed commitment for ending forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking as committed in the Sustainable Development Goals. Let this be the last generation that has been exploited in the name of illiteracy, poverty or helplessness.”

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Statement by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on the passage of India’s Child Labour Amendment Bill of 2016

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 is a missed opportunity.

I was hoping that today the elected leaders of our country will acknowledge that the value of freedom and childhood is greater than the value of a vote; that they would respond to the voices of the most exploited and vulnerable children. I had hoped that the first phase of my struggle of thirty-six years would culminate in the creation of a strong law and I would work with the Government for its effective implementation.

Despite its progressive elements, the lacunae in this Bill are self-defeating.

The definition of family and family enterprises is flawed. This Bill uses Indian family values to justify economic exploitation of children. It is misleading the society by blurring the lines between learning in a family and working in a family enterprise.

The Bill reinforces status quo in society by hindering socio-economic mobility of the marginalised and furthers the rigid norms of social hierarchy.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have fixed targets for elimination of child labour and accomplishment of universal, inclusive education for children, rights which I had fought and advocated for.  As the world progresses towards this goal, India threatens to unravel the pace of progress by opening a back door for large number of children to enter workforce.

Children of any age, under the garb of family enterprises, can now legally work in brick kilns, slaughter houses, beedi making, glass furnaces and other hazardous labour.  Children have been failed again.… Read the rest