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.

Walk Free: Help Reduce Child Labor in India

[From Walk Free:]

Every day, millions of children in India wake up with nothing to look forward to except hours of back-breaking labour working everywhere from stone quarries to carpet factories to rice mills. Children as young as 5 years-old are kept from school, forced to work 7 days a week for up to 18 hours a day and end up with crippling injuries, respiratory disorders and chronic pain.

Because these children are often left illiterate and plagued with health problems, they are – in a cruel twist of fate – less likely to find employment once they reach adulthood. This continued enslavement of children traps generations of Indians in a vicious cycle of slavery, illiteracy and poverty.

Thankfully, the Indian Parliament is considering legislation called the “Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill,” which:

1. Prohibits the employment of children up until 14 years of age,
2. Outlines harsher sentences for violators of child labour laws and
3. Provides for monitoring of suspected instances of child slavery.

This legislation would put an end to the enslavement of children in India but it risks not passing without a demonstration of mass public support.

Sign the petition to urge its passage by clicking here.
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Child Labor Advocate Kailash Satyarthi on the Recent Landmark Indian Supreme Court Decision on Trafficking

With great pleasure, I share my joy and accomplishment with you. As I write to you, I am holding a copy of the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India that will have far reaching impact on the lives of millions of children. This historic judicial verdict was delivered on 10th May 2013 in response to a petition filed by my Indian organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) which is the key partner of Global March Against Child Labor.

It is indeed a watershed moment not only in BBA’s three decade fight in restoring childhood but has also brought a fresh lease of hope for hundreds of thousands of missing children and their hapless parents, whose cries remained unheard due to the absence of legal protection and apathy of the enforcement machinery. Our argument that children do not disappear in thin air but go missing because of an organized nexus of traffickers and mafias has been finally upheld by the highest court of the land.

BBA's Kailash Satyarthi and Child Labor Coalition Co-Chair Sally Greenberg at last summer's international child labor confernce in Washington, D.C., organized by the Global March Against Child Labor.

India has a dubious distinction with one child going missing every ten minutes as per government records. Although the government admits that complaints for 90,654 missing children were received in 2011 but it was only 15,284 First Information Reports (FIRs) that were eventually registered by the police to investigate various crimes these children were victims of. This also was possible only because the parents had expressed their suspicion on someone.

The Supreme Court in its much awaited decision has ruled in for compulsory registration of all cases by police of missing children with the presumption that they are victims of kidnapping and trafficking; preparation of standard operation procedures in all Indian states to deal with such cases; appointment and training of Special Child Welfare Officers at every police station to deal with cases related to missing children; records related to all missing and traced children to be maintained by Ministry of Home Affairs and Police; and provisions for para-legal workers to be present at every Police station to assist the parents whose child maybe the victim of a crime.

The Honorable Court has finally defined missing children as “a person below eighteen years of age, whose whereabouts are not known to the parents, legal guardians and any other person, who may be legally entrusted with the custody of the child, whatever may be the circumstances/causes of disappearance. The child will be considered missing and in need of care and protection within the meaning of the later part of the Juvenile Act, until located and/or his/her safety/well being is established.”

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Today is the Day to Think about the Plight of the World’s 300,000 Child Soldiers

Today is an important day if you care about the welfare of children. Advocates have named February 12 “International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers” to highlight one of the worst forms of child labor. It’s hard to imagine that in 2013 the use of child soldiers is alive and thriving, but the BBC estimates that there are 300,000 child soldiers internationally. This number includes children of elementary school age who are handed automatic weapons and asked to kill, as well as others who are used for slave labor to support armies. Since January 2011, child soldiers have been used in at least 19 countries.

Many of the children suffer the worst forms of psychological warfare from their captors, who in many cases break them down by forcing them to kill or maim their friends or family. Many girls are sexually assaulted and forced to serve as sexual slaves. Many child victims are given drugs to keep them compliant. Their years of enforced service often produce intense psychological scarring that makes it hard to return to their communities. In some cases, they are shunned by their villages. Hear one girl’s compelling story in this YouTube video.

The Child Labor Coalition has tracked dozens of stories regarding the use of child soldiers over the last year and engages with its members to perform advocacy to reduce the use of child soldiers. Most recently, the warfare in Mali led to the recruitment of child soldiers, including children as young as 12. In early January, the United Nations decried the use of child soldiers in the Central African Republic, and in India, reports emerged that the militant group, the Garo National Liberation Army was using children in a variety of roles to support combat, including possibly the use of armed children. In early December, 2012, the U.S. government imposed sanctions on two “March 23 (M23)” leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for allegedly using child soldiers.

Not all the news has been bad. In June 2012, Burma made significant strides in reducing its use of child soldiers when it released an action plan to tackle the problem. In 2012, Yemeni authorities said they were committed to stopping the use of children in the military.

The challenges governments face to end the use of child soldiers are often formidable, however. A February 6th Huffington Post blog by Jake Scobey-Thal noted that despite some progress, child soldiers are still being used in Burma and cited the International Labour Organization that their numbers may be as high as 5,000.

Two members of the Child Labor Coalition, World Vision and Human Rights Watch (HRW), have been leaders in the effort to pressure the US government into abiding by a congressional law, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which prohibits military aid to countries that use child soldiers. They’ve also provided a valuable service with early warnings when civil strife reaches the point that children begin to be dragged into military conflicts as they have been recently in Mali, Syria and the DRC.

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The Real Cost of Cheap Goods is High: The Scary Truth Behind Some Christmas Ornaments

With the holidays upon us, many American look forward to trimming their Christmas tree and spending time with their loved ones, especially their children. For many kids, Christmas invokes the happiest of memories, but not all kids are so lucky.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is now the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, noted earlier this month that many children in India are virtually enslaved in sweatshops that manufacture Christmas ornaments. Check out what Brown had to say in this video and learn about the “nightmare” suffered by Indian children who make ornaments for consumers in the U.S. and other countries in the Western hemisphere.

In the video, Brown talks about a rescue raid by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) which freed 14 of the child laborers—some as young as eight—from a sweatshop in Delhi. BBA, like the Child Labor Coalition is a member of the Global March Against Child Labor, an international umbrella group that works to reduce the worst forms of child labor.

“Children are being asked to work 17, 18, 19 hours a day,” said Brown. “They are being asked to work in unsanitary conditions. They are being asked to work without sunlight. Some of them are lacerated because they are working with glass. We found these children in this basement, they were not being paid, they had been trafficked…” Several children had been beaten by their crew leaders. The rescuers actually found 12 of the children imprisoned in a locked 6-foot  by 6-foot cell

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