Child labour – The worst menace of all time

A guest post by Akshay Mahajan at

Child labour, also referred to as child slavery by many, is one of the worst effects of poverty as seen in India and many other countries.

What is child labour ?

Child labour actually refers to employing children for various tasks at an age when they should play, learn and need education. They are instead put to work for long continuous hours and that too with minimal earnings.

From employment of children for domestic purposes to pushing them into dangerous mines, all comes under the name of child labour. Employing any child of the age group 4-16 is now a punishable offence against child labour.

Where did child labour originate ?

Children working in a Factory

The origin of child labour can be dated back to the Industrial Revolution when the children of slaves were put to work by the rich lords. Children were made to work forcibly in industries, factories, mines etc and even in dangerous conditions. Most of these children used to die at early ages as they had to work for upto 15 hours without a break.

We often find descriptions in History books regarding the stories of many talented and known personalities who had to face the menace of child labour in their life to support their poor family’s needs. Those days children were found employed at every nook and corner. Some were employed as domestic care-takers while some had to sell items of their employer roaming about on roads, some even had to work for the major part of the day in dark and risky mines while some had to work as sweepers and cleaners.

How is the situation now ?

Child labour is still prevailing in many parts of the world. Children can often be seen working as domestic servants. They can easily be found working in small shop as helpers and are even found carrying heavy loads inspite of the fact that they are minutely paid. We see children working in small Restaurants washing utensils and doing cleaning work.

The stats state that there are presently around 160 million employed children in the world.

What causes Child labour?

Poverty is the root cause of child labour. Poor slum dwellers have the opinion that more children means more working hands and this way with no source of income, nourishing the living of 5-6 household members is impossible. So, they make their children a part of this practice. It is their necessity and this necessity takes the form of child labour. Having their children work along with them is the only way to live for these poor people.

Actually, Poverty can be traced back to Population outburst, more population means less earning opportunities and more poverty thereby leading to child labour.

Steps taken to curb this menace

UNICEF is the international organisation that has been established to look into such malpractices through out the world. Strict and stringent laws have been enforced to see to it that child labour no longer exist. Indian govt. has also passed a law that gives every child under the age of 14 right to education irrespective of his or her category or caste or religion.

This step has invited praises from all sections of the country. Also, enforcement of strict punishment for those found guilty in any case of child labour is another great step against this menace and this has even reduced employment of small children publicly in shops in cities and towns.

Although the situation is improving day by day, but the villages and rurals still need more attention. The international organisations from different countries including India is looking closely into this matter.

Hope, we see a world where child labour get its place only in History Books owned by children.


Akshay Mahajan (‘Akshay’) is a young citizen journalist whose award-winning insights often appear at Akshay may be contact via email at


  1. Truly the worst menace of all. I agree

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