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Government of India set to ban all forms of Child Labour


Children In India March To Demand Total Abolition Of Child Labour

On 29th August 2013, more than 300 children in New Delhi, India supported by adults marched to the Parliament demanding the passage of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, which would prohibit hazardous work for all children below 18 years. It will also ban any employment of children below 14 years thereby aligning with the Right to Education Act. The children’s march was convened by the Global March’s partner organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA). Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free and Avaaz joined BBA to deliver 1 million petition signatures on behalf of the global community outraged over Indian laws and practices that push around 55 million (according to civil society estimates) Indian children to labour in deplorable working conditions. The petition called on the Indian Parliament to pass the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill without further delay.  After leading the march to the Parliament, members of National Children’s Parliament also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister's Office demanding a complete ban on child labour in the country.

Expressing discontent on Government of India’s inaction in terms of ratification of ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Age of Employment and Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour, Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi at the march said, “Indian legislators have failed the children yet again. It only goes to show how insensitive towards the children of the country, its polity is. It is rather surprising that despite being home to the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world, India is one of the barely eight countries like Somalia, Tuvalu, Eritrea etc that have not ratified ILO Convention 182. Likewise India is one of the handful nations that are yet to ratify ILO Convention 138.”

He further said, “It is disheartening that child labour elimination is not on the priority list for our law makers and that is precisely why the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill is yet to be discussed and voted in the Parliament, while the Food Security Bill has already been passed by both the houses of Indian Parliament and awaits to be assented by the President”. Being a founding member of the ILO it is quite a blot on the image of India for not having ratified these two core conventions. Once the child labour law is amended it would pave way for the ratification of both the ILO Conventions”. On behalf of Global March, Mr. Satyarthi urged the Indian Parliament to pass the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill on the next business day exemplifying its leadership in child labour elimination just ahead of the Global Child Labour Conference to be held in Brazil this October.

“Parliamentarians have not found time to debate a legislation that may protect millions of children from exploitation and slavery. Because children are not voters!” lamented R S Chaurasia, Chairperson of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

Commenting on the delay by the Indian Parliament in passing the child labour law amendment bill, Ms. Debra Rosen, Movement Director at Walk Free said “Child labour in India is a tragedy and the Indian parliament needs to pick up where they left off in May and pass the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill immediately. Millions of children who should be in school are instead bought and sold to work in deplorable conditions for hours on end as sex workers, bonded laborers, or domestic servants. The world’s children deserve more.”

The march to the Parliament was supported by the trade and teachers’ union including Indian National Trade Union Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and All Indian Primary Teachers Federation, and other child rights organizations in the country.

Global March Against Child Labour has been actively supporting civil society partners in India in their collective demand for a strong anti-child labour law in the country. Over the last 15 months Global March organized several national and state level consultations involving all stakeholders like top bureaucrats from the Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Labour and Employment; State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights, Trade Unions, Employers’ Association, Teachers’ Unions and Child Rights organizations and UN Agencies build a consensus on a strong child labour law in terms of rehabilitation of child labourers, accountability of law enforcement officials, stronger and deterrent punishments for the offenders etc.

In the coming months Global March and partner organizations in India would reach out to the Parliamentarians yet again with a firm request for an early passage for the amendment bill in the next legislative session with utmost urgency.

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National Consultation On Child Trafficking And Child Labour

A two day National Consultation on Child Trafficking and Child Labour brought together all stakeholders involved in the fight against child labour to deliberate upon the tenets of the child labour law, Child Labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, which needs to be amended; in terms of making rehabilitation as an integral part of the act, ensuring monitoring and accountability of law enforcement agencies, interlinking the child labour law with other progressive legislations as specified above, making punishment and penalties in child labour cases more severe to serve as a social and economic deterrent etc.

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Trafficking Of Children For Physical Exploitation, Slavery Or Practices Similar To Slavery And Servitude Is Now A Crime Under The Indian Penal Code

21 March 2013, New Delhi: After a long struggle staged by the civil society organizations and anti child labour organizations, the Parliament of India has passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013. With the President’s assent, the Bill will be notified as an Act soon. This Bill has replaced the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 that was promulgated on February 03, 2013.

Global March Against Child Labour and its partner organization in India Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) have been for long demanding definition and criminalization of trafficking in the legal statutes. This demand further intensified after May 2011 when India ratified United Nation’s Palermo Protocol following a Supreme Court directive in the case of Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs Union of India. The definition of trafficking as proposed to be included in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is in line with the international definition of trafficking. Additionally section 370A criminalizes the employment of trafficked children for sexual exploitation. Under the Bill that has been passed by the Parliament today any contravention to Sections 370 and 370A of IPC will attract very stringent punishment which in some cases would extend to rigorous imprisonment for the remainder of the offender’s natural life.

This legislation comes against the backdrop of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old paramedic student in Delhi earlier in December 2012. There was an unrelenting public outrage across the length and breadth of India that compelled the government to amend the criminal laws of the country. The Government appointed a three member Justice Verma Committee to recommend amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. Both Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Global March had made elaborate submissions to the committee for defining and criminalizing trafficking of children which forces them into the whirlpool of all forms of exploitation including rape. Justice Verma Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013 including the recommendations made by the civil society organizations towards trafficking of children.

Over the last forty five days Global March and BBA individually met with almost all the members of the Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs that were vested with the responsibility to deliberate upon a robust Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill. They also reached out to all Members of Parliament seeking their support for strict laws against trafficking in persons. The Chair of Global March, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi wrote to the President; Prime Minister and Chairperson of the ruling coalition in India strongly advocating for inclusion of provisions against child trafficking in the Bill. He also met the Leader of the Opposition in both the houses of Parliament and the leaders of all political parties to build consensus on the inclusion of the provisions against trafficking and the employment of trafficked persons including children.

Not only does the legislation clearly define and lay down the procedures to deter sexual crimes against women, but as a landmark also includes the definition of trafficking in persons for the first time in the Indian criminal justice system.

Kailash Satyarthi lauding the inclusion of provisions against trafficking in persons in the Indian Penal Code said, “It is a watershed moment in the history of India that provisions against horrendous crimes of trafficking in persons for exploitation, situations similar to slavery and servitude have been included in the legal statutes. It undoubtedly is a victory for all anti-trafficking, anti-slavery and anti-child labour campaigners across India and the world. The passage of Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 showed the political will and urgency of the law makers and the government”.

Global March holds trafficking to be the greatest form of abuse and violence against children and women. Slavery including child labour, forced labour and bonded labour is the result of the criminal process of trafficking in persons and needs strong deterrent in the law reinforced by effective implementation and overall rehabilitation and social protection framework.

 

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“Indian Child Rights Organizations Demand Statutory Definition Of Trafficking, Slavery, Forced Labour And Other Forms Of Sexual Exploitation”

Bachpan bachao Andolan, Global March Against Child Labour, Apne Aap Women’s Worldwide along with thousands of their child rights partner organizations have demanded that the provisions of defining and criminalizing trafficking, slavery, forced labour and other forms of sexual exploitation as included in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 must be retained in totality in the proposed changes in law for protection of women.

The organizations strongly opined that the crimes of child trafficking, missing children, sexual exploitation, slavery and employment of trafficked children are interwoven thus cannot be addressed in isolation without a comprehensive legislation. While welcoming Justice Verma Committee’s recommendations and subsequent inclusion of sections 370 and 370 A, the civil society organizations  expressed that it is for the first time in Indian history that trafficking which is the process of multiple crimes is legally defined and criminalized. The leaders of these organizations Kailash Satyarthi, Founder Bachpan Bachao Andolan; Chairperson Global March Against Child Labour , Ruchira Gupta, Founder of Apne Aap women’s worldwide  along with a survivor of child trafficking and sexual abuse and a father of another missing and trafficked girl addressed the Media earlier today.

Trafficking of children and women is the biggest organised crime in the country today. However, there is no information available with any government agency on the total number of victims affected by this crime. More than one lakh children go missing in the country each year. The government also claimed to have rescued almost 1.26 lakhs children from trafficking in 2011-12. However, the numbers of prosecutions are negligible for the arrest of traffickers and kidnappers. Moreover, there was no help for 10 out of 11 children who go missing in the country till the Supreme Court of India gave comprehensive directions for compulsory registration of cases earlier this year. The directions have yet to find their way to the local police.

Geeta (name changed to protect the identity) who had deposed before the Justice Verma Committee, says, “I was brought to Delhi by a placement agency with a promise of wonderful life and education. However, after reaching Delhi, I was made to work in two different places for almost two years and was often promised that I would be given money when I go home. When I wanted to go home, I was raped and was not allowed to leave the owner of the placement agency tried to sell me for three lacs rupees to a person in Mumbai and I somehow managed to run away"

Kailash Satyarthi founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan says that, "despite traffic in human beings being prohibited as a form of forced labour in the Article 23 in the Constitution of India mandating punishment, it took almost 63 years for the country to define trafficking comprehensively in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013. It is high time to include trafficking in the penal code and demand the strict enforcement of sections 370 and 370A of Indian Penal Code as per the Ordinance in all the cases of trafficking across the country."

Ruchira Gupta founder of Apne Aap foundation says, "On behalf of victims and survivors of prostitution, who are members of Apne Aap, I urge the government of India to define prostitution as exploitation in the new definition of trafficking to be included in Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill as per Sections 370 and 370A of the Presidential Ordinance and the Justice Verma Commission Recommendation.

More News

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Trafficking In Person, Forced Labour And Child Labour Crimes In The Indian Penal Code

4 February 2013, New Delhi: Global March Against Child Labour lauds the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 promulgated by the President of India’s signature on 3 February 2013, that not only clearly defines and procedures to deter sexual crimes against women, but also in a landmark first step, includes trafficking in persons, trafficking for forced labour and employment of trafficked children (trafficked child labour) in the Indian Penal Code.

Trafficking in persons has for the first time been defined in the Indian criminal justice system.  India ratified the United Nation’s Palermo Protocol in May 2011 following a Supreme Court directive in the case of  Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs Union of India, and the definition included in Indian Penal Code new Section 370 is in sync with the international definition of trafficking, and makes it an offense that attracts imprisonment of at least seven years and up to life. Similarly, employing of a trafficked person in any form of labour and the employing of a trafficked child attracts rigourous imprisonment in the new law.

Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of Global March commending the inclusion of trafficking in persons and child labour said, “It is a remarkable first major step by India towards recognising the horrible crimes of trafficking in persons and slavery including child labour and forced labour. It is also a landmark victory for all anti-trafficking, anti-slavery and anti-child labour campaigners across India and the world. The ordinance showed the political will and urgency of the government, and now we must ensure that it passes through the Parliament.”

Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the criminal law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. The Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013.

It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms.

Global March submitted its suggestions to the Committee to include trafficking in persons, especially the sexual exploitation, along with a range of suggestions to deter sexual violence against women and children in India.

Satyarthi opined that, “Now, I am more optimistic than ever that the day is not far when violence against our precious children will be completely put to an end, and child labour would become history.”

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Trafficking of Kids must be made a major Offence and 5years Imprisonment for employing Child Labour recommends Justice J S Verma Committee

New Delhi, 23 January 2013: “Trafficking of kids must be made a major offence,” recommends Justice J S Verma Committee seeking reforms in the criminal justice system for protection of women and children in its recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs in India, and inclusion of child labour as a crime under the Indian Penal Code. It also slams the police and the investigation agencies for doing nothing to prevent trafficking of children and women.

The Justice J S Verma Committee, a three member panel headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice J S Verma, was constituted in the wake of the barbaric sexual assault and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012 to recommend “possible amendments in the criminal laws and other relevant laws to provide for quicker investigation, prosecution and trial as also enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women, and connected areas such as gender justice, respect towards womanhood, and ancillary matters.”

At first instance, Global March Against Child Labour welcomes the sweeping changes recommended by the Justice Verma Committee to protect women and children from violence in all spheres of life, fixing accountability of the law enforcement agencies and duty bearers, and ensuring that the culture of silence and impunity is shattered. The need for education and perception reforms were also made explicitly in the report.

Global March also made suggestions to the Justice Verma Committee for their consideration and is pleased to note that most of the suggestions have been incorporated by the Justice Verma Committee in its report, including broader and inclusive definition of sexual assault, removal of the subjective interpretations of morality and value-laden terms in the criminal justice systems, compulsory registration of FIRs (first information reports) in cases of sexual crimes, time-bound trial, the issue of trafficking, and ensuring accountability of legal system officers.

Furthermore, on the issue of child labour, missing children, trafficking on the whole, and in particular of children and women, the Committee took serious note of the inaction by the police, administration and duty bearers and recommended that trafficking of children be made a serious offense in the Indian Penal Code, and that punishment for employing a child labour be raised to 5 years of imprisonment.

On broad guidelines, the Committee recommends preventive action and legal literacy, awareness and education to ensure respect for human rights, particularly the rights of women and children, and gender justice, that are in consonance with the suggestions by the Global March.

Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of Global March remarked, “It is encouraging that the report has incorporated the wider aspects of exploitation of and violence against children, which are often neglected, such as violence at homes and at workplaces. We strongly demand that these valuable recommendations by the Committee are not consigned as dead letter, but are implemented with utmost political will, honesty and urgency.

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Government of India set to ban all forms of Child Labour 

Cabinet likely to approve the new Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act today  

New Delhi, August 28th, 2012: In a significant move to curb the rampant spread of child labour across the country, the Government of India is set to ban the all forms of child labour under the age of 14 years, making the employment of children below 14 years a criminal offense. The Union cabinet of India is likely to approve the Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act today which will put a blanket ban on employing anybody below 18 years in hazardous occupation. Such hazardous occupations have also been re-classified in line with the increase in the minimum age of child labour from 14 to 18 years.

However, it will allow employing children only between 14-18 years in non-hazardous industries like forest gathering, child care etc. Children between 14-18 years have been defined as "adolescents" in the amended Act. Employing a child below 14 years in any kind of occupation is set to become a cognizable offence, punishable with a maximum three years imprisonment or fine up to a maximum of Rs. 50,000.

Ministry officials said that banning any employment of children below 14 years will go a long way in enforcing the Right to Education Act, 2009 which mandates free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6-14 years.

 

This is a crucial step by the Government towards ending child labour following more than a decade of sustained efforts by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and the Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) to pursue complete abolition of child labour in India. The Child Labour Free India campaign has a multi-pronged approach of a range of tactics including ‘Knock the Door’ – a flagship tactics of BBA where former child labourers knock the doors of parliamentarians and celebrities petitioning them for strong anti-child labour legislations.

Pursuing justice and policy changes through the courts both Supreme Court of India and the High Courts for protection of children’s rights is another strategy that has reaped benefits in favour of strong legislations and child friendly policies.

The ongoing Child Labour Free India Campaign, by the BBA and Global March has strongly encouraged and demanded the following amendments in the Child Labour Act:

  1. All forms of employment should be prohibited for children up to the age of completion of education in accordance to the Right to Education Act;
  2. Employment of children up to 18 years of age in any hazardous occupation or processes or any economic activity which is dangerous for children must be prohibited in conformity with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000;
  3. Child Labour should be made cognizable and non-bailable offense under law and punitive actions against offenders should be made more stringent and time-bound;
  4. An effective national programme with sufficient resource allocation for comprehensive rehabilitation of child labourers and also for clear monitoring and accountability framework must be in place; and
  5. India should reiterate its new role as a leader in global economy by immediately ratifying ILO Conventions No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and the No. 138 on the minimum age of employment at the earliest.

In the course of the campaign, during the National Consultation on Child Labour Free India on 10-11 May 2012 opened by the Honourable Minister Shri Mallikarjuna Kharge, the Minister made a clarion call to take immediate steps to curb child labour and bring forth the amendments as demanded by the BBA and Global March. Demand letters were also presented to Honourable Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mrs Sushma Swaraj as well as all Members of the Parliament, and 65 MPs strongly supported the demand for a complete ban on child labour.

It is heartening to see that the government has accepted the key demands of the campaign for a child labour free India through the proposed amendments, and a step forward in protection of children’s rights in India.

It would undoubtedly be a remarkable victory for the vibrant civil society once the child labour law is amended and made stronger. But the entire political class must demonstrate political will in enforcement of the legislations by putting in adequate efforts, resources, accountability and an achievable timeframe,” remarked Mr Kailash Satyarthi, founder of BBA and Chairperson of Global March on the Union cabinet’s discussion of the amendments in the child labour laws.

Over 1,05,000 citizens of India have already signed the e-petition to make India child labour free. Celebrities like Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Mahima Chaudhary, Boman Irani, Deepti Naval and sportspersons like Adam Gilchrist have wholeheartedly lent their support to this campaign.The campaign and the consultations are part of a series of dedicated campaigns and activities to mobilize support for amendment in the child labour law in India and advocate for the ratification of the ILO’s child labour conventions, by the BBA and Global March.

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Cabinet approves the new Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act on 28 August 2012

(accepts the demands of Global March Against Child Labour for a child labour free India)

Union Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge announced the revisions in the Child Labour Law agreeing to the demands
at the National Consultation on Child Labour Free India on 11 May 2012, New Delhi
 

New Delhi, August 28, 2012: In a significant move to curb the rampant spread of child labour across the country, the Government of India is set to ban the all forms of child labour under the age of 14 years, making the employment of children below 14 years a criminal offense. The Union cabinet of India approved the Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act today putting a blanket ban on employing anybody below 18 years in hazardous occupation. Such hazardous occupations have also been re-classified in line with the increase in the minimum age of child labour from 14 to 18 years.

However, it will allow employing children only between 14-18 years in non-hazardous industries like forest gathering, child care etc. Children between 14-18 years have been defined as "adolescents" in the amended Act. Employing a child below 14 years in any kind of occupation is set to become a cognizable offence, punishable with a maximum three years imprisonment or fine up to a maximum of Rs. 50,000 (~US$ 900).
Ministry officials said that banning any employment of children below 14 years will go a long way in enforcing the Right to Education Act, 2009 which mandates free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6-14 years.

This is a crucial step by the Government towards ending child labour following more than a decade of sustained efforts by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and the Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) to pursue complete abolition of child labour in India. The Child Labour Free India campaign has a multi-pronged approach of a range of tactics including ‘Knock the Door’ – a flagship tactics of BBA where former child labourers knock the doors of parliamentarians and celebrities petitioning them for strong anti-child labour legislations.

Pursuing justice and policy changes through the courts both Supreme Court of India and the High Courts for protection of children’s rights is another strategy that has reaped benefits in favour of strong legislations and child friendly policies.

Child Labour Free India Campaign, by the BBA and Global March has strongly encouraged and demanded amendments in the Child Labour Act, all of which have been accepted by the government:

S.No.

Our Demands

Cabinet Approved

1

All forms of employment should be prohibited for children up to the age of completion of education in accordance to the Right to Education Act;

All forms of child labour prohibited fro children under 14 years of age

2

Employment of children up to 18 years of age in any hazardous occupation or processes or any economic activity which is dangerous for children must be prohibited in conformity with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000;

Children between 14 and 18 years prohibited in hazardous work

3

Child Labour should be made cognizable and non-bailable offense under law and punitive actions against offenders should be made more stringent and time-bound;

Child labour is now a cognizable offense

4

An effective national programme with sufficient resource allocation for comprehensive rehabilitation of child labourers and also for clear monitoring and accountability framework must be in place;

Government working towards a comprehensive rehabilitation, monitoring and accountability framework

5

India should reiterate its new role as a leader in global economy by immediately ratifying ILO Conventions No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and the No. 138 on the minimum age of employment at the earliest.

Ratification hurdles cleared, and government has indicated that ratification is now in pipeline

In the course of the campaign, during the National Consultation on Child Labour Free India on 10-11 May 2012 opened by the Honourable Minister Shri Mallikarjuna Kharge, the Minister made a clarion call to take immediate steps to curb child labour and bring forth the amendments as demanded by the BBA and Global March. Demand letters were also presented to Honourable Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mrs Sushma Swaraj as well as all Members of the Parliament, and 65 MPs strongly supported the demand for a complete ban on child labour.

It is heartening to see that the government has accepted the key demands of the campaign for a child labour free India through the proposed amendments, and a step forward in protection of children’s rights in India. 

“It is a remarkable victory for the vibrant civil society today and a major step towards ending all forms of child labour. We have been advocating and demanding for more than a decade to bring all forms of child labour under this legislation and for a stronger child labour law in consonance with the ILO's child labour conventions. Now that the Union cabinet has accepted these demands, we urge the government to table this amended bill in the Parliament in this session. And, the entire political class must demonstrate political will and keep to the commitments it made us this May and ensure unanimous passage of this bill in both the Houses. The entire government machinery must make it its mission to ensure effective enforcement of the legislations by putting in adequate efforts, resources, accountability and an achievable timeframe for abolition of child labour,” extolled Mr Kailash Satyarthi, founder of BBA and Chairperson of Global March on the Union cabinet’s approval.

He further recommended that, “with the new amendments, this is the right time for the Government to ratify the ILO Conventions 138 on minimum age of employment and ILO Convention 182 on worst forms of child labour.

Over 1,05,000 citizens of India have already signed the e-petition to make India child labour free. Celebrities like Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Mahima Chaudhary, Boman Irani, Deepti Naval and sportspersons like Adam Gilchrist have wholeheartedly lent their support to this campaign. The campaign and the consultations are part of a series of dedicated campaigns and activities to mobilize support for amendment in the child labour law in India and advocate for the ratification of the ILO’s child labour conventions, by the BBA and Global March.

Read more about the Child Labour Free India Campaign:
http://www.bba.org.in/campaigns/CLFI/