Publication Date

2002

Abstract

The reemergence of child labor in the international policy arena of the 21st century has opened the door to a new debate on whether or not working children should be included in the decision-making process when the proposed policy or law being considered affects them. The child members of the Bhima Sangha labor union of Bangalore, India, are demanding to be included in policy decisions when the policy will affect them as children, workers and citizens with rights according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Those who claim that children are not knowledgeable enough to be making demands about an issue such as child labor are challenging working children who demand to be included in decision-making processes. These same opponents of working children assert that the children of Bhima Sangha, a union in Karnataka, India consisting of more than 13,000 working children under the age of eighteen, are only harming themselves by joining the union, which prolongs their working state rather than help them by putting them into a traditional educational setting. Working Children Unite is research about how membership, specifically in the child labor union, Bhima Sangha, affects its members and their status as working children with the following research question: Has Bhima Sangha affected its members negatively by prolonging their suffering as working children? The child members of Bhima Sangha challenge accusations that their Union membership is harming them. Their own stories, personal experiences and beliefs on what is best for working children were used to measure the effects of Bhima Sangha on their lives. The author concludes by explaining that the confidence, knowledge, and skills Bhima Sangha members gain once they join the Union far surpasses what they would have gained had they not joined Bhima Sangha.

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