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Committed to eliminating child labour, says Maneka Gandhi

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India is fully committed to working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7 to eliminate child labour, Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said on Thursday.

While speaking at the 4th Global Conference on Sustained Eradication of Child Labour at Buenos Aires in Argentina, the minister said: “India is fully committed towards prevention, reduction and eventual elimination of child labour through policy and legislation reforms, stable economic growth, respect for labour standards, universal education and social protection initiatives.”

The minister was making the country statement at the event, which has been organised jointly by the Government of Argentina and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The country statement brings out the government and nation’s position on the subject of child rights and child labour.

“The most comprehensive step taken by the government is the amendment in the Child Labour Act of 1986. This amendment prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 in any occupation whatsoever. It also prohibits employment of children in the age group of 14-18 years in any hazards occupation,” she mentioned.

The minister also disclosed that to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children, the ministry was in the process of bringing a new legislation on trafficking, which focussed not only on punitive measures but also prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked person.

She also mentioned that the National Food Security Act 2013 and the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guaranty Act 2005 were two other critical legislations which provided a safety network to vulnerable communities and played a pivotal role in the prevention of child labour and “are world’s biggest social protection measures ever taken by any nation”.

Gandhi also highlighted the role played by Child helpline (Childline-1098) which is the world’s biggest facility for the rescue of children in distressed situation.