Rights: A rapid survey study released by Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) showed that in the 24 districts surveyed in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the number of children working, from vulnerable communities, increased from 231 to 650 compared to the pre-COVID-19 period.
The proportion of working children from Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities has increased nearly three-fold from 28.2 percent to 79.6 percent due to COVID-19 and resultant school closures.
According to the report, 30.8 percent of the children were working in the manufacturing sector, and 26.4 percent in the service sector. Children were also employed in agriculture and home-based cottage industries.
More than 94 percent of the children said that they had started working due to the financial difficulties faced by their parents, and family pressure. The pandemic and the accompanying loss of livelihoods has pushed many families into poverty. As a result, children were being made to work to earn some income, even after the lockdown.
The study has suggested measures to address this issue of rising child labour. These include providing minimum guaranteed employment for adults in families, coverage of vulnerable families under social protection schemes, and the strict enforcement of labour laws. It also suggested the activation of village-level child protection committees.
Read this article on how COVID-19 has increased the risk of child labour and what civil society can do to protect vulnerable children.