Even in today’s modern world, an estimated 168 million children still remain trapped in child labor, several of them for even full time. Most of them do not get a chance to receive formal education and several of them do not even get proper food and nutrition. Moreover, at least half of them have been involved in the worst of the working conditions, slavery and other illicit activities such as prostitution and human trafficking. However, the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, and the national governments have been trying their best to get this inhuman practice eradicated and bring back the childhood of these innocent children. However, let us know a bit more about the child labor laws worldwide.
Categories of Child Labor as Defined by The International Laws:
- Human Trafficking, slavery, debt bondage and other forced labors, prostitution, pornography and forced recruitments into armed conflicts are termed s the unconditional worst forms of child labor.
- Any kind of labor performed by the child, which is not permissible at his specific age (as defined by the national legislation) which might hinder the child’s education and development.
- Labor that might hinder the mental, physical or the moral well-being of the child. It usually includes working in hazardous conditions or the nature of the work being performed.
Minimum Working Age:
Most of the countries retain strict laws and have restricted the minimum age for working to 14-15 years. However, there are some exceptions, which have been set by the International Labor Organization. For developing countries, where the economy of the country might be dependent on the working children, it might be permissible for children of above 12 years of age to do light work in suitable conditions and as long as it does not affect their formal education.
Age Restrictions and Types of Works:
Along with setting the minimum working age of 14 years, the ILO has restricted the minimum working age to 18 years for work in hazardous conditions, such as working on a construction site, dealing with machines which could cause any kind of harm or any other worst kind of works. “Worst Forms” of works as defined by the International Labor Organization, includes slavery, prostitution, human trafficking and several other inhumane practices.
The penalties which are imposed for the violation of any kind of child labor laws depend on the situation and the location. For eg., in California, violating any child labor laws may lead up to 6 months of imprisonment in the county prison and/or $500-$10000 of a monetary fine. In most of the countries, companies can face fines and legal suits against them if found guilty of the violation of child labor laws. However, huge cultural differences and other legal complications make the laws difficult to be implemented strictly in several countries. Moreover, as per Right To Education Project, the child labor law implementation still lacks back in several countries as they do not possess enough means to enforce the laws strictly.