Seriousness or silliness?

The days leading up to the opening night were fraught with frenzied arguments. There was a blank email. There were emails in response. One hadnt collected all the project details. Another wanted to protect privacy of kids in the photographs we were using. A third wanted to have multiple back up plans to distribute monies collected. Someone wanted to have a credit roll. In sharp contradistinction, another vehemently protested. There was a blank email. There were emails in response, anagram-ed names in tow. Any by-stander would have imagined these folks were running amok after a series of scorpion bites, and could have been easily forgiven for that assumption.

In the end, what they were really doing was starting a sensitive campaign to showcase Asha projects which — each in their own way, each to a different extent — work on reducing child labor in different parts of India. This group of individuals spanning multiple Asha chapters have on every detail exhibited a rare sensitivity, be it privacy issues of photographs, or listening to every expressed opinion. It has been an honor to work with this team.

That said, lets look at a few common myths of child labor:

Myth: Poverty is the single major cause for child labor

  • Most child laborers do come from impoverished social setting. Children start working at an young age, hence remain illiterate/unskilled; are burnt out by the time they are adults; as adults suffer from unemployment and increase chances of child labor in the next generation! Child labor, in fact, causes poverty!

Myth: A global ban on child labor products will force the elimination of the practice of child labor and protect children’s rights

  • Global ban proposals focus on export oriented products. Bulk of India’s child labor is in domestic industries (92%). Linking concerns of human rights to export and trade only serves the concerns of developed nations. Social clauses and blanket boycotts do not make any commitment towards rehabilitation of these children.

Myth: Children work faster and have nimble fingers needed in certain types of work, especially knotting carpets

  • In various studies undertaken in carpet industries, match making industries, as well as weaving industries, this has been proved a myth.

Myth: Child labor is necessary to preserve traditional arts and crafts

  • This argument hides the reality of children bonded to families, or hired bonded laborers are rarely taught any art or craft. The arts and crafts can be passed on within the child’s family as part of their socialization and growing up

A detailed compilation of these myths are available here.