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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
India bans child domestic labour
By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

Rescued child labourers who were employed in textile factories around Delhi
Current child legislation is not effective
The Indian government has announced a ban on children working as domestic servants or in roadside food stalls.

The order, which applies to children under 14, will come into effect in October, officials say.

It also bans children from teashops, restaurants, hotels, motels, resorts, spas or other recreational centres.

There are estimated to be more than 12.6 million child workers in India, many of whom work as domestic helps or in small roadside restaurants.

Vulnerable

A senior official in the Labour Ministry, SK Srivastava, told the BBC that "the Technical Advisory Committee on Child Labour regularly surveys the risk factors involved in any industry and depending on our findings we have taken this decision".

The committee, while recommending the ban, warned that children under 14 were vulnerable to physical, mental and even sexual abuse.

Mr Srivastava said that anyone found violating the ban would be penalised under the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act of 1986. Punishment range from a fine to imprisonment.

India has laws in place to protect children and bans the use of young workers in hazardous industries, but they remain ineffective in many areas.

Thousands of children continue to work in firecracker and matchstick factories or are involved in carpet weaving, embroidery or stitching footballs.

Many parents say crippling poverty forces them to send their children, sometimes as young as five or six, to work in other people's homes or in factories.

Most of these children are made to work in unhealthy conditions for long hours and paid poorly.




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