Youth icon and Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana is a thought leader who wants to bring about constructive, positive changes in society with his progressive entertainers. Ayushmann, voted One of the Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, was recently named a Celebrity Advocate by UNICEF for its global EVAC (Ending Violence Against Children) campaign. On World Day against Child Labor, the young Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana emphasizes that this practice is a total violation of children’s rights and must be stopped immediately.
Ayushmann says: “Child labor robs children of their childhood and is a total violation of their rights. COVID-19 has made children, especially girls and migrant children, more vulnerable and at greater risk. School closings, increased violence at home, death of parents, loss of jobs within families drive children into child labor. “
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According to the 2011 Indian Census, there are 10.1 million working children in the age group 5-14 years old (5.6 million boys and 4.5 million girls). Children in the informal disorganized sector, including housework, remain largely invisible and are therefore not fully covered in the official data. They are hired because they are cheaper to hire and comply with the employer’s demands and are unaware of their rights.
The COVID-19 health pandemic and the resulting economic and labor market shock have an enormous impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer. What started as a health crisis has taken the form of a full blown humanitarian / socio-economic crisis – and an even bigger crisis for children.
The school closure disproportionately affected many children who already encounter barriers to access to education; including children with disabilities, students living in remote locations, children of migrant workers, or those whose families have lost income due to job loss. Many children do not have access to online education or smartphones. As a result, this crisis has left many with limited or no education, or they have fallen further behind their peers. Children in such poor and disadvantaged households are now at greater risk of dropping out of school and being forced into child labor, child marriage or human trafficking.
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The economic downturn due to lockdowns and other COVID prevention measures has resulted in significant job losses. This, in turn, is likely to affect the lives of the most vulnerable children. When parents and caregivers fall ill or die, children are forced to take on some of their duties, including housework and gainful employment. Child carers, especially girls, are exposed to an increased risk of illness by caring for sick relatives and have a higher risk of dropping out of school and entering into unpaid child labor.
Ayushmann and UNICEF have teamed up to prevent child exploitation and urge people to take note of such problems. He says, “Stand up to prevent this from happening. Lawyer for Social Protection Systems for the Poorest Families; Emphasize that all children should safely return to schools when they reopen; Choose ChildLine 1098 when you see a child in need. “