Kudos to Tabbassum Aman for her letter titled, “Child labour” (PO, February 20, 2017). A popular myth is doing the rounds that poverty is to be alleviated first and then only we can solve the problem of child labour. Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi points out that it is just vice versa. He rightly says that poverty does not breed child labour but it is the child labour that perpetuates poverty. Now, to get to his point, we can consider a poor family consisting of parents and two brothers – one adult and one child. The market force will try to employ the child as a cheaper option of labour. This will have a negative impact on the child’s health, education and his acquiring necessary skills to cut the vicious cycle of poverty.
Moreover, the child’s entry into the job market will certainly hamper his elder’s (or at least one other adult’s) prospect of getting employment. If the adult brother gets the job in place of his little younger one then their family income will, definitely, shoot up as a child labour usually earns much less than his or her adult counterpart. Besides, there is every possibility that the parents will send their ‘unemployed’ child to school. Therefore, in this case, the child with the help of increased family income and school education can become a game changer for his family in particular and for his country in general. So, it is not at all possible to eradicate poverty without giving top priority to end child labour. Those who think that they are helping a poor family by providing employment to a child is actually pouring diesel to put out fires of poverty.