Reviewing Bilal A Jan's The Lost Childhood
REVIEW BY DR. MANZOOR HUSSAIN
The film entitled, “The Lost Childhood” by Bilal A. Jan represents various issues and concerns of children in Kashmir who work in confusion and chaos, where excessive obsession breeds fear and nervousness marrying the prospects, where physical, mental, cultural, intellectual or emotional well-being is endangered. Children are among the most neglected, abused and exploited segments of the population. Unacceptable forms of exploitation of children at work exist and persist. Hazardous work, economic exploitation, gender discrimination, poverty, illiteracy, long working hours and low wages paid are some of the worst forms of child labour in Kashmir.
Nowhere, perhaps are children so widely and mercilessly exploited as a work force as in Kashmir and despite legislation to curb exploitation of child labour, the practice continues unabated resulting in the violation of thousands and lakhs of children. The 32-minute documentary (in Kashmiri) shows the exploitation the children face. "They are forced to work for long hours but paid low wages. Many a time they don't get a penny,"
The children, the film revealed, face a host of problems including lack of basic amenities and wage disparity on the basis of sex. Most of the children have left schools after the death of their fathers in different militancy-related incidents. "It had become impossible for their families to send them to schools.
According to unofficial estimates, there're about 300,000 child labourers in the state. In the 2001 census, the number was pegged at 1, 75,000, with 70% of the teenagers belonging to the Valley and most of them orphaned in the conflict. Majority of them were females working in unorganised sectors like handicrafts.
The main causes of child labour in Kashmir include conflict situation, poverty, unemployment, and excess population. Among these, conflict situation and poverty are the primary cause of child labour. The film reveals that these poor orphaned families struggle for survival which makes their children work in factories, shops, even selling items on streets.
The film reveals certain negative implications for our society. Child labour does more than deprive children of their education and mental and physical development - their childhood is stolen. Immature and inexperienced child labourers may be completely unaware of the short and long term risks involved in their work.
Working long hours, child labourers are often denied a basic school education, normal social interaction, personal development and emotional support from their family. Beside these problems, children face many physical dangers - and death - from forced labour:
Physical injuries and mutilations are caused by badly maintained machinery on farms and in factories, machete accidents in plantations, and any number of hazards encountered in industries such as mining, ceramics and fireworks manufacture
Growth deficiency is prevalent among working children, who tend to be shorter and lighter than other children; these deficiencies also impact on their adult life
Long-term health problems, such as respiratory disease, vision loss, and a variety of cancers, are common in children who are forced to work long hours. A significant majority of children suffer from myopia due to the constant eyestrain while others faced immediate and long-term implications including accidents, cuts and burns, chronic bronchitis, chest pain, cough and dysphasia.
The film maker recommends a sensitization programme for the awareness of common masses so that comprehensive social action programme/policy could be formulated for short-term and long-term planning which will focus on crucial social problems of children in Kashmir. The film maker is challenging the law, since the law is not clear.
(The author is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Kashmir University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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