India bans employment of children below 14

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

NEW DELHI, Aug 2, 2006 (AFP) – Employing children under 14 in households, roadside eateries and hotels will be illegal in India from October, the government has announced, saying it hopes to improve the plight of millions. But rights activists held out little hope that the lot of child labourers would change.

A labour ministry statement late Tuesday said the ban has been imposed under the 1986 Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act and would take effect October 10.

It warned that anyone employing children in homes, roadside eateries, restaurants, hotels, motels, teashops, resorts, spas or in other recreational centres will be liable to prosecution.

Penalties range from a prison term of up to two years and/or a fine of between 10,000 rupees and 20,000 rupees (212 and 424 dollars).

The ban is expected to “ameliorate” the sufferings of millions of working children, said the labour ministry, estimating that there are some 12.6 million child labourers in India.

Describing the employment of children as domestic helps or in the hospitality industry as “hazardous,” the statement said that in most cases they were subject to physical violence, psychological trauma and sexual abuse.

Those working in high