Wednesday December 19, 2018
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Do not buy Mica from Child Workers, Appeal Indian Officials

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally

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Children working with Mica. Image source: www.terredeshommes.nl
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  • Thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines
  • Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down
  • The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indian officials appealed to local traders on Tuesday asking them to stop buying mica mined by child workers. The government comes under pressure from activists to clamp down on child labor as thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines, extracting the sparkly mineral used in lipsticks and eye-shadow as well as electronics.

Officials from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the eastern state of Jharkhand this month to assess the extent of child labor in its mica mines. The state, along with Bihar state, produces about three-quarters of the mica mined in India.

“Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down. But legal or not, no one should be engaging child workers – it is against the law,” said Yashwant Jain, a member of NCPCR, who visited Jharkhand.

“We met with some traders and told them not to buy mica from child workers. We told them we would take strict action against anyone caught doing so,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Thousands of children climb down narrow mine shafts with no safety equipment, and cut mica with hammers and chisels for up to eight hours a day, activists say.

The work puts children at risk of skin disease, respiratory infections, injury and death.

Child labor at a mine Image Source: Numero Unity

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The International Labour Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally. Up to 20,000 children may be working in the mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, according to some estimates.

The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture.

India wants to amend the three-decade-old law to outlaw child labour in all sectors. But children who help in family businesses will be permitted to work outside school hours, a loophole that activists say may be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

The mica from illegal mines is sold to traders or intermediaries, who sell it to exporters, who in turn sell it to manufacturers of cosmetics, chemicals and electronics. Few have systems to check the use of child labour, activists say.

Indian Nobel Laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has said big corporations must do more to clean up their supply chains and ensure that no child labour is involved in the products they manufacture.

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Jain said it would not be fair to target the children’s families, who are usually poor and illiterate.

“We realise it is poverty that is driving these villagers to send their children to the mines, not to schools,” he said.

“So we are putting the onus on the traders, who are benefiting from the situation. Only by raising awareness that what they are doing is wrong can we solve the problem.”(Reuters)

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

SHARE
  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

Next Story

Number Of Uninsured Children In The U.S. Rises to 3.9 Mn: Report

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling.

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Abigail Gabriel, 8, hugs her mother, Erin, as a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services official talks about the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP, during a news conference, Dec. 7, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Abigail had health care under Medicaid. VOA

The number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, placing it at 3.9 million in 2017, according to a report Thursday from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

Nationally, the number of uninsured children increased by an estimated 276,000 in 2017, from a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent last year. Experts say about 75 percent of the newly uninsured children are clustered in states that did not expand Medicaid such as Florida, Texas and Georgia.

Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Florida and other states could take federal funding to help pay for health coverage for nearly 900,000 people, but the Republican-led Legislature in Florida voted against it. The vast majority of states have already expanded Medicaid and increased the number of residents eligible for its coverage.

Joan Alker, executive director for Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, has written the report for the last eight years and said she’s never seen the rates of uninsured children go up in all 50 states, which happened last year.

Probiotics, Uninsured
Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country.

Better economy, low unemployment

She said that what is perhaps most concerning is that the uninsured rate among children increased despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate that allowed more children to get private coverage through their parents.

The study blamed the increases on the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to prompt an overhaul of publicly funded health care. There were major efforts to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid, and the children’s CHIP insurance funding also ran out and hung in the balance for months before Congress extended it.

“There was a lot of confusion among families as to whether these public coverage sources were available,” Alker said.

At the same time, the Trump administration slashed funding for advertising and enrollment counselors to help sign people up for these health insurance programs. The country’s enrollment decline was not just in Medicaid and CHIP, but also in Obamacare, or the federal marketplace where parents can purchase private health insurance and often receive a subsidy to help pay for it.

The report noted that many of the children who do not have health insurance are eligible for coverage but just aren’t enrolled.

Central American Migrants, democratic party,Uninsured
Central American migrants begin their morning trek as part of a thousands-strong caravan hoping to reach the U.S. border, as they face the Pico de Orizaba volcano upon departure from Cordoba, Mexico, Monday. VOA

‘More of a fluctuation’

Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the figures were statistically insignificant.

He did agree that there were dips in Medicaid enrollment and through the Obamacare marketplace, but noted there’s no enrollment cutoff for Medicaid, meaning families can sign up their children year-round.

“It’s really more of a fluctuation. There’s no policy driver there,” he said, saying he didn’t think marketing cuts had any impact.

In Florida, the uninsured rate went from 288,000 in 2016 to 325,000 in 2017.

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Honduran migrant Genesis Belen Mejia Flores, 7, waves an American flag at U.S. border control helicopters flying overhead near the Benito Juarez Sports Center serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country, and also has had the highest number of enrollees purchasing insurance through the Obamacare federal marketplace. However, Medicaid expansion in Florida is likely off the table for this upcoming legislative session. Incoming Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is against it. His opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, campaigned heavily on his support to expand Medicaid coverage for more residents.

Also Read: Produce Industry In The U.S. To Step Up Produce Safety Due To Recent Outbreaks

The report also expressed concern that strict immigration policies and enforcement were making many immigrant families leery of enrolling, even if their children were eligible for health coverage. “We think it’s really this national unwelcome mat regarding public coverage,” Alker said. (VOA)