Our strategy is to generate social concerns and involve all stakeholders in advocacy work directed at mainstreaming child rights in all relevant legislation to ensure protection of child rights and sustainability of government actions by sensitising decision makers through meetings, policy recommendations and campaigns. MCRC’s approach is dialogue based; we address limitations in content and implementation of contemporary legislation and welfare programmes, and offer the government constructive recommendations on how to bridge the gap.
The advocacy for a complete ban on child labour is in the core of our advocacy programme. The current Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act allows child below 14 years to work in some "non-hazardous" sectors such as farming. According to the Act, persons between 14 and 18 years are not children and are not covered by it. Apart from age-related issues in defining childhood, weak provisions of punishment and fines for the offending employers in the existing Child Labour Act also have somewhat diluted the effectiveness of the law. The intensive campaigning has prompted the union government to clear a proposal for a complete ban on employing children under the age of 14, and restricted non-hazardous work to adolescents between the age of 14 and 18. We continue the lobbying towards the full protection of children against exploitative work, included children between 14 and 18 years.
A major achievement in our work towards the elimination of child labour was the Indian ratification of UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons in May 2011. The ratification is particularly significant because it gave the first comprehensive definition of human trafficking, and required countries to criminalize the practice, and to adopt legislation to translate the obligations into national law.
Through Human Right to Food Initiative programme, we were one of the strongest voices in the process of drafting the Food Security Act. Along with other CSOs, The Child Trust was able to prepare a bill that was presented to several responsible government agencies, such as the National Development Council, Empowered Committee in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Planning Commission, the Ministry of Law, and the Ministry of Food and Civil Supply. We specifically voiced concerns to ensure child right to food and include related provisions in the Act. While we welcome the efforts made to provide food security in India; we strongly call for universal provisions that protect the right to food for all children independent of their social status. Furthermore, the Act must have provisions suited to protect the food security of women, specifically targeting pregnant and lactating women. We continue to lobby for a stronger and comprehensive Food Security Act in compliance with national and international obligations which should follow a two-fold structure reflecting both: deprived people's "right to feed oneself" and their "right to get food".
Land Acquisition and the protection of the right to livelihood
The right to land and livelihood of India’s indigenous population is another issue close to The Child Trust's heart. For a great share of India’s population, the right to land is fundamental in the protection of their livelihood and is crucial in the protection of the rights of the child. It is a great challenge that the voice of children is not heard in cases of land acquisitions initiated by the government. The Child Trust has been working with the indigenous villagers in Jharkhand and advocating their cause against Open Cast Coal Mining. This mining has affected their livelihood, access to food and water, their health situation and children’s access to school. On a policy level, we continue our advocacy work towards a Land Acquisition Act that entails the full protection of people’s livelihoods and a respect for people’s right to food, water, health and education.