The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
A Pahari girl in the picture is carrying firewood stock on her head for household use. The challenging and tiring task of collecting firewood for household use is often the responsibility of women and children in hilly areas.
This involves spending at least one day every week travelling long distances to the forest hence limited time to be involved in other more productive activities, and carrying heavy loads of firewood on their backs or heads, thus risking spinal, head and leg injuries.
In addition, they are at risk of being attacked by wild animals. Young children involved in firewood collection often miss education opportunities, a situation that disproportionately affects girls.
Besides the negative impacts of firewood collection, the household air pollution generated by the use of firewood in inefficient cookstoves – e.g. the traditional three-stone fire – in poorly ventilated dwellings mainly affects women and children who spend most of their time in the kitchen.
People all across the globe have more responsibly been proactive in reporting the child labour cases and thereafter helping them in making their life more comfortable by sending them to schools for education.
Children who work for their parents and help them in daily household chores too miss all the opportunities that life offers them like all other lucky children in the world. They are supposed to be a home, go to forests for the firewood, cook and look after other important issues of the household that are not meant for them.
We as responsible citizens need to turn our heads towards such forms of child labour that go unnoticed and doesn’t seem like “child labor” just because they work for their parents.
Mohammad Nayeem is a student of journalism and a passionate photographer. He can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
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