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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

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A Majority of Children Die Due to Lack of Basic Healthcare Facilities: UN

For children everywhere, the most precarious time is the first month of life

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A malnourished child lies in a bed waiting to receive treatment at a therapeutic feeding center in a hospital in Sana'a, Yemen, Jan. 24, 2016. (VOA)

An estimated 6.3 million children died before their 15th birthdays in 2017, or one every five seconds, mostly due to a lack of water, sanitation, nutrition and basic healthcare, according to report by United Nations agencies on Tuesday.

The vast majority of these deaths – 5.4 million – occur in the first five years of life, with newborns accounting for around half of the deaths, the report said.

“With simple solutions like medicines, clean water, electricity and vaccines” this toll could be dramatically reduced, said Laurence Chandy, an expert with the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF. But without urgent action, 56 million children under five – half of them newborns – will die between now and 2030.

Globally, in 2017, half of all deaths in children under five were in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in 13 children died before their fifth birthday. In high-income countries, that number was one in 185, according to the report co-led by UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

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UN: A Child Dies Every Five Seconds, Most Are Preventable Deaths. Pixabay

It found that most children under five die due to preventable or treatable causes such as complications during birth, pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal sepsis and malaria. Among older children – aged five to 14 – injuries become a more prominent cause of death, especially from drowning and road traffic.

For children everywhere, the most precarious time is the first month of life. In 2017, 2.5 million newborns died in their first month, and a baby born in sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia was nine times more likely to die in the first month than one born in a high-income country.

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Despite these problems, the U.N. report found that fewer children are dying each year worldwide. The number of under five deaths fell to 5.4 million in 2017 from 12.6 million in 1990, while the number of deaths in five to 14 year-olds dropped to under a million from 1.7 million in the same period. (VOA)