This Article on “Child Labor vs Child Actor” is written by Aparna Chaki, student of Heritage Law College (Calcutta University).
Children are the assets of any country and should be given significant ministration for their survival and healthy burgeoning. Childhood for everybody needs to be preserved because their disposition and psyche are mounted in the enculturation process. The commencement of child labor lies in the multifarious composite process of restricted socio-economic deficiency. As a consequence, the subject of child labor has tenanted preponderance in the endless debate on the embodiment of ‘social clauses’ under the realm of the World Trade Organization. It is of peremptory importance to understand the elucidation of the term ‘child labor’. Any work done by the child that does not affect their health and personal evolvement or impede with their education is a positive manifestation. Any work done in contrary to this may be categorised as ‘child labor’.
International Labor Organization defines ‘child labor’ as any work that bereaves them of their childhood, their potentiality and their dignity, and that is detrimental to their physical and mental health. Some execrable form of child labor includes – children being separated from their families and being exposed to serious hazardous works, prostitution, pornography, slavery, trafficking and various other illicit activities. On the other hand, ‘child actor’ in our country is defined as a child who conducts or practises any work as an avocation or profession directly entailing him as an actor, sportsperson, singer or in such other venture collating to the sports activity or entertainment industry. Nevertheless, a pertinent question arises here – Do child actors fall under the classification of child labors?
TELEVISION AND REALITY SHOWS
It is a naked truth that few school-going children from our country have been a part of the entertainment industry since the early 90s. From starring in films to slowly migrating to reality shows like Boogie Woogie to Indian Idol Junior, we have witnessed the active participation of children in such shows. The television industry had plenty of incentives in order to attract children to their manifesto. Talent shows were hosted with a motive to treat that as a platform for recognition in the television industry and sometimes even a prospective career in films. Initially, the winning prize for such talent shows would be chocolates as well as gifts. Gradually, the sponsors started investing which led to an augmentation of the prize money along with guaranteed fame that would follow. This led to a large host of parents yearning their children to join the entertainment industry. They misconstrued it to be an alternative to expeditious stardom, acclamation and opulence.
Parents opting for their children to work in this industry have often contended that participation in such reality shows and serials/films are an adjunct to the curricular undertaking in their schools. Also, depending upon the acclaim of the serial/films, they are paid a hefty amount that makes their children financially independent from a young age. Such parents also corroborate that talent and reality shows create opportunities for their children and help them in the amplification of their career.
OBSTACLES FACED BY CHILDREN IN BOTH REALM
Child labor results in forfeiture of one’s standard childhood and destitution of the opportunity to lead a happy and peaceful life. It further leads to health complications like undernourishment, mental trauma and deprivation of basic education. Children engaged in hazardous and illicit activities are exposed to a discordant and relentless arena of life. These are frivolous children who eventually get caught up in the world of crime and ruin their lives perpetually. On the other hand, children engaged in the entertainment industry acquiesced with the inappropriate, anxiety-inducing and treacherous operational menace and hazards. Many of these issues are intrinsic and generic to the people of this industry but the children engaged herein should not be expected to manoeuvre the emotional and physical distress, unlike their adult counterparts. In the truancy of any observation mechanism, there is a certain plausibility of child actors being abused or overworked as well as chiselled in matters of safety and educational stipulation.
There is enough demonstration to disport that there is a great extent of exploitation and subjection in either case. One’s childhood is pensively a time of learning, exploring and bonding. In both cases, the children lose a part of their childhood. However, it is difficult to deduce as to which children are more vulnerable to the relentless experiences of life.
LAWS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM REDUNDANT HARM
There are various national as well as international laws to protect and safeguard children from harm and exploitation in any industry. International programs like The International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor accord to the complete elimination of child labor of all forms. Our Constitution too contains provisions under both Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) to safeguard the children against bonded labor and child trafficking. There are various national legislations as well. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is a statutory body to protect the rights of every child. PENCIL for Child Labor is an online platform initiated to certify efficacious execution of the National Child Labor Project Scheme as well as the amended Child Labor Act, 1986.
There is also the Draft National Child Protection Policy that targets to preserve the children in our country against cruelty, exploitation, ill-treatment and deterioration. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is a gender-neutral Act that has been validated to amplify the legal provisions for the safeguard of children against ill-treatment, sexual abuse and child sex labor. The National Policy on Child Labor was initiated in the year 1987 with a nucleus on children rehabilitation indulged in hazardous work and occupation, rather than on deterrence. The National Child Labor Project is a central government scheme which is entirely funded by them and seeks to prevent all forms of existing child labor.
The Central government of our country introduced various amendments to the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules in the year 2017 that contains several provisions for the incorporation of child actors in the entertainment industry to protect them from unnecessary exploitation. It contains provisions in regard to conditions for children performing in the entertainment industry whereby producers of such shows need to adhere to certain rules in relation to the children involved thereof.The said Rules are in the manner that the producer of the concerned show shall have to seek permission from the District Magistrate along with the consent of the child parents’. Other provisions include giving of the disclaimer that while filming any part, there was no exploitation, misuse or neglect of the children involved as well as arranging for necessary education facilities so that there is no interlude in the child’s school years. It further contains provisions that no children shall be allowed for more than twenty-seven days consecutively.
HOW FAR ARE THE LAWS EFFECTIVE?
The law is translucent on the children rights employed in the entertainment industry but bona fide and scrupulous application of the same is required. There are various filmmakers like Amole Gupte and Shoojit Sircar have voiced their concerns regarding the same subject and have demanded an acute ban on reality shows which involve children. When such concerned persons come together as a proponent of child rights, it facilitates for discovering solutions that can be recommended to authorities and certify that existing rules are acceded to till convalescent provisions don’t come up. Having a closer view at the legal substructure of the issue, the recent amendments that were made to the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 seems to lays a blanket ban on all children indulged in all professions debarring the ones assisting their family (except perilous occupations and activities) post-schooling hours in the entertainment industry.
In other words, it is legal for children to engage in the entertainment industry (television, movies, audio-visual industry). The Act mentions the very definition of ‘child artists’ and recognizes their work and also the exigency to balance it. However, the amended Act only defines certain nominal safeguards solely. It does contain regulatory provisions that children should be safe in their work environment and that their education in school should not be compromised. But the Act completely disregards the child’s rights to freedom and relaxation in order to cultivate the child’s full capability and prospects.
It is an undisclosed fact that children involved in the entertainment industry are exhibited to not only work but also to expansive limelight which the children are not equipped to handle physically and mentally. All such exposure dispossess them of having a quality childhood. Children engaged in hazardous work are equally exposed to physical and mental distress. We can therefore arrive at a conclusion that children affianced in both the industry are jeopardized with many health as well as moral concerns. There are various existing legislations to protect children involved in both the industry. Taking into contemplation, the predisposition of the children, special preventive measures and care is to be specified to the children. It does not matter if a child is involved in the entertainment industry or laborious work, every individual child needs to be conducted with respect and their needs and evolution must be of fundamental rumination.
- What is child labour, INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION, https://www.ilo.org
- Komal Ganotra, Children who work in films and TV shows need to be protected, IN (Jul. 11, 2017 12:00 PM), https://scroll.in
- All About Child Labour: An Indian Perspective, JVS (Nov. 14, 2019), https://www.jatinverma.org.
- Lucy Rana & Rupin Chopra, India: Child Actors And Child Labour Laws, MONDAQ (Jul. 21, 2017), https://www.mondaq.com.
- Malavika Rajkumar, What does India’s Law Say on Child Labour? How to File Complaints? THE QUINT (Jun 12, 2020 08:00 AM), https://www.thequint.com.
- Child Artist’s Position in Indian Film Industry, CRY (Jul. 07, 2017), https://www.cry.org.