“The best way to make children good is to make them happy.” (Oscar Wilde)
The above quoted line by a famous poet and author Oscar Wilde is very true, as children are the future of the world.
However, in present world there is growing concern about the children, who instead of being in schools or at play are being forced to work so that they can survive. Instead of pen to write with and toys to play with they are given tools to work and make a living. This has given birth to a gruesome social evil called child labour.
The child labour has eaten vitals of our society. The children are seen as cheap working machines. They are either too young to work or are involved in activities that are hazardous to their physical, mental, social or educational development.
They are seen working as conductors or vendors crying at their highest pitch. They are seen working in factories and industries. They are seen in black coffins while working in coal mines. They are forced to work as drug suppliers. They are forced to illegal practices of prostitution and trafficking. Nowadays, they are trained how to beg and earn for their masters.
The ill fate is that they are forced to work for extra hours and are ill paid. They are crushed. Their distress can be well understood by relating their fate to these lines of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, translated by Naomi Lozard as When Autumn Came:
It stripped their ebony bodies naked
It shook out their hearts
Scattered them over the ground
Anyone could trample them out of shape.
Poverty is indeed the main reason for the child labor. Because of this children are forced to left their school and opt for menial jobs to support their families for their livelihood. Parents prefer their child to become an earning hand and damn care about their education. They make a living out of their suffering. The painful lamentation of a child, who is forced by his poor parents to work,can well be understood by quoting William Blake:
“They(parents) think they had done me no wrong,
Who made up a heaven of our misery.”.
(The Chimney Sweeper, stanza 3)
These lines highlight the pain and agony experienced by the children who are forced to work, sometimes under too severe and harsh conditions.
To put an end to this menace International Labour Organization(ILO) , in 2002, announced 12th June as a World Day Against Child Labour. In a way 12th June came as a noble gift for thousands of such children whose ebony bodies were stripped naked by the evil of child labour.
The day aims to shed light on the problems of the child labor, highlighting the need of defeat any form of economic exploitation of child.
This day not only focuses on the suitable environment required for the children to grow and prosper but also provide an opportunity to gain support from government, civil society, schools, youth and media to participate in the campaign against child labor. So, this day indeed is a noble gift for such children.
But, it should be borne in mind that mere celebration of this day every year cannot help children who are still groaning under this evil. Them aim of this day is to end all those means which hamper the physical and mental development of children. It is our responsibility in particular to work for the end of this evil. It should be the motive of every single individual of the world to raise voice against this menace wherever encountered. Only then this day will prove a noble gift for the victimized children.
Let’s pledge to bless their withered bodies with passion and make their dead veins flow with blood again.
Sayar Ahmad Rather teaches English literature at AIMS ACADEMY,Kulgam J&K.