Balprafulta, a Don Bosco Child Rights Organization, along with Holistic Child Development of India (HCDI), Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) and CARE (Mahrashtra), on the occasion of the International Anti Child Labour Day, organized a State Level Consultation on June 11 and 12, 2010, with participants from both Government and Non-Government Organizations. For quite some time now, those working in the area of Child Labour felt that an upsurge had to be created in Maharashtra to curb the exploitation of children in the labour market. Hence Balprafulta, celebrating its 10th Anniversary, took the initiative to bring about a convergence of various stakeholders and move towards preparing a Vision Document for the eradication of Child Labour in Maharashtra.
From Government Organizations those who participated in the Consultation were DCP Sheela Sail (Mumbai Crime Branch) and DYSP Mr. Ghondhe (Maharashtra) of the Home Department, Mr. Illwe (Director of Labour Cell) and Mr. Shailendra Pol (Asst. Labour Commissioner) from the Labour Department, Ms. Jayant Pavnikar from the Department of Women and Child Welfare, Mr. Suryakant Kulkarni and Ms. Farida Lambe from the State Child Rights Commission, Dr. Mane from the Mumbai University Law Department, Ms Neelam Gorhe, MLA and Shiv Sena spokesperson, and Mr. Waidande from YASHADA. Also present were representatives from UNICEF, CRY, Childline India Foundation, Saathi, Pratham, CCVC, YUVA, Td.H, FACSE, Shikshan Haq Abhiyan (Western Maharashtra), Nari Probadhan Manch (Latur), Apulki (Jalgoan), Apeksha (Amravati), ARC (Pune) and others. In all over 100 people enthusiastically participated in the two-day proceedings that centered on finding new ways to make the Government focus on the issue of Child Labour and at the same time create a groundswell to make people more aware of this malaise in our society.
Some highlights of the Consultation were:
- Enforce the implementation of the J.J. Act (2000) along with the Amendments (2006) and entirely scrape off the Child Labour Regulation and Prohibition Act of 1986.
- Using the J.J. Act as central, amalgamate all other child related laws and create a new Child Protection Act.
- Transfer the responsibility for children (everyone below the age of 18) from the Labour Department to the Department for Women and Child Welfare and work towards strengthening this Department.
- Presently the entire process of Re-Integration of children after rescue is weak. Work towards building a comprehensive plan which will support the re-integration of children into mainstream society.
- Use the provisions allowed in the Children’s Act and insist on creating Children’s Courts. This will enable fast track prosecution as well as create greater sensitivity towards vulnerable children.
- Right across all Departments of the State, it must be unanimously accepted that a child is anyone who has not completed 18 years of age.
- Scrape the term “Child Labour” and instead use a more inclusive term “Working Child”.
- To create a groundswell and increase awareness, focus on sustained advocacy by regularly raising questions on children in the Assembly, insisting on budgetary provisions for children and writing in the newspapers about the plight of working children.
A spark has been ignited and Balprafulta along with many others wish that this spark turns not only into a flame, but grows into a fire that will purge away the exploitation our children suffer under the hands of unscrupulous employers. A unanimous cry from all the participants was to work towards making Maharashtra a ‘Child Labour Free State.’