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Friday, April 4, 2008

Kids Walk The Ramp at Lakme Fashion Week - A Mishap Happens, and what the Laws say?

The recently held event, of the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week, witnessed the fall of the designer Abhishek Dutta’s one-year-old son from the ramp raising the issue of whether children should be allowed to walk the ramp. The accident took place on the third day of the event, when the toddler was made to walk the ramp with a model showcasing Abhishek’s collection.
You can watch video of the event here:

Although the kid did not show any signs of being hurt, there was no official confirmation of the same! The Lakme Fashion Week, this year, saw the new trend of kids flaunting collections on the ramp. The youngest of them being the Bollywood star, Darsheel Safary, who stole the show as he walked the ramp for the designer Neeta Lulla.

See Pictures of the event:

This whole event has, yet again, raised the ethical question of whether children should be used or allowed to walk the ramp. This question has been raised in the local “Mumbai Mirror” newspaper yesterday, to find out from the voice of the people their opinions on this matter. While some people agreed that it should not be allowed and that it amounted to child labor, there were those who said that it really didn’t matter! They felt that if children could be used for advertisements and movies, then what’s the harm in walking the ramp?

The question of child labor has been haunting our country for quite some time. The extreme poverty and population overgrowth in our country makes it exceptionally difficult to control the exploitation of children and women used for cheap labor. It was way back in 1979 that the Indian government formed the first committee called the Gurupadswamy committee to study the issue of child labor and to suggest measures to tackle it. You can read all about this committee, the child labor Act, Rules and Policy here:

The child labor act and other labor laws were made to ensure (I quote) “that the children are not employed in hazardous employments, and that the working conditions of children working in non-hazardous areas are regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Child Labor Act. It also entails further identification of additional occupations and processes, which are detrimental to the health and safety of the children.”

There is also a list of such employments that are considered as hazardous and not safe for children, which include all such industries that handle toxins or harmful chemicals as raw materials.
Here is a news report in which the national child rights organization “Child Rights and You” (CRY) has brought out the significant gaps in the notification that was issued by the Ministry of Labor in August 2006:

There is, however, no mention of them working in the glamour industry like movies, TV, or walking the ramp. So, is the list incomplete? Should they be banned from this kind of work too? After all, they do get paid for the work that they do. We are all aware of the amount of psychological and physical stress involved in any showbiz! Are the kids ready to handle the kind of stress that comes with fame and money at an early age? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered! But, its not a simple answer. The issue is multifaceted and very complicated… Let’s all ponder at length on this.

What do you feel?

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