Author: Muskaan Aggarwal
IV Year | Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat
The exploitation of child entertainers has not been as rare as one might believe, making child protection an important issue. In fact, considering the money and fame involved with the profession, it is nothing but common. According to a report by the Child Rights and You (CRY) NGO , children are forced to work for long hours in the entertainment industry, without any concern for their education or leisure time, thus leading to exploitation of the children .
Thus, in order to protect the innocence of children, we require adequate laws and regulations. Moreover, preventing them from any form of child labour becomes important. This article focuses on the national and international protections available for child entertainers. Further, it analyses whether the protection granted to them is enough or not.
The International Labour Organisation:
The International Labour Organisation (ILO)  defines ‘child’ as anyone under 14 years of age. It also defines ‘young person’ as anyone under 16 years of age . Further, ILO’s Minimum Age Convention  talks about child labour. It includes any work done by any child below 12 years of age, non-light work done by any child of 13 to 15 years of age, and any hazardous work performed by any child of 15 to 16 years of age .
However, even under the ILO Convention, any participation in artistic performers has been provided as an exception for children. Moreover, child labour does not cover this work within its ambit. Thus, defining the number of hours of work becomes crucial so as to not affect the education of child entertainers.
Protection has been provided to child performers under various laws around the world. For example, countries such as Canada and USA follow “Coogan Law”. Such laws protect the child entertainer’s earnings for their own benefit .
The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986:
Debates surround the life of child entertainers considering their unique situation of working as a minor from a young age, which many find problematic and risky. Consequently, child protection in the entertainment industry still remains contentious.
Considering such debates, the government made amendments to the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 . This attempts to completely prohibit child labour in all occupations. However, the only exception is provided to children who work “as an artist in an audio-visual entertainment industry, including advertisement, films, television serials or any such other entertainment or sports activities except the circus” . This implies that children can legally work in the entertainment industry unless it affects their education.
Positive Results for Child Entertainers:
In cases of child entertainers, the producers must follow certain directives before employing children. These specific directives have been provided under the 2016 amendment. Some of these are:
- Obtaining permission from the District Magistrate before the start of any activities or work with the child artist (Form C Undertaking)
- Submitting a list of the child artists, the person responsible for their safety and security, and the consent form of the guardian/parents
- Providing disclaimer stating that they took necessary care and measures during the shoot
- Ensuring that the education of the child stands unaffected during the process
- Ensuring that the child does not work for more than a continuous period of 27 days (with not more than 5 hours/day).
- Implementing the requirement of depositing at least 21% of child entertainer’s income in their own bank account in a nationalized bank. The deposit is transferred upon attaining the age of majority .
The amended laws did prove to be a good start, wherein producers started making efforts for the employed child artists. A significant example is during the shooting process of the movie “Stanley ka Dabba”, Filmmaker, Amole Gupta, structured the shooting timetable in accordance with the child actors’ school schedule. This ensured that the education of the children remained unaffected .
Child Protection – A long lost hope:
Various problems, however, continue to plague the legislation. There remains no difference in protective provisions for young infants, children under a specific age, or for specially-abled children.
The education of the child has been provided preference in the legislation. Nonetheless, the industry completely ignores the right of a child entertainer to recreation, leisure, and play. This, in itself, is very important to allow the child to grow to his/her complete potential .
A further problem with the current legislation is the lack of a tracking mechanism for the proper implementation of the Act. There is no proper mechanism to track the number of places the child entertainer may be working simultaneously or for a situation wherein the child has to travel overseas for a shoot.
What happens to the education of the child in such situations? Unfortunately, there is no answer to the same. The industry does not take into account the psychological well-being of the child. Considering that the industry itself undertakes competitive exercises, including handling situations, for instance, the acceptance of rejection or subjection to a life of fame.
Providing proper sensitization for child entertainers as well as their guardians/parents is what the legislation lacks the most. Their workplace and homes involve high-risk environments for child exploitation .
NCPCR Guidelines for the Protection of Child Entertainers:
On 24th June 2022, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) made an effort and published draft guidelines for the protection of children within the entertainment industry . NCPCR already published the guidelines in 2011. The recent guidelines further consider the developed popularity of social media and OTT platforms. Therefore, the guidelines are inclusive of OTT platforms, reality shows, social media content, TV serials, advertisements, movies, news and informative media, performing arts, and any other commercial entertainment activity undertaken by children.
The guidelines take into account the Child Labour Amendment Act, 2016 , Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 , Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 , Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 , etc.
NCPCR’s New Proposals for Child Entertainers:
NCPCR made the following proposals for child entertainers in their guidelines :
- Registration with the district magistrate of the performance area is mandatory for all child artists.
- Consideration is required to be given to the child’s age, emotional and psychological development, maturity, and sensitivity, to ensure that children are not exposed to any discouragement, harsh behaviour or comments, insults, embarrassment, or anything that is capable of distressing them. No depiction of children smoking, consuming alcohol, or any other substance as per Section 77 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 .
- Immunization or breastfeeding promotional programs prohibited for infants under three months. Child performers casted in roles appropriate for their age.
- Disclaimer to be provided stating that they took necessary care and measures during the shoot
- At least one known person or legal guardian to be present during the shooting, and a registered nurse must also be present for shooting with infants.
- The studies of the child under the Right to Education Act, 2009 , must not be disrupted at any cost. Child shall work for only one shift/day, with a break in every 3 hours. They cannot work for more than 6 hours or between 7 P.M. to 8 A.M.
- Every person coming in contact with the child is required to submit a medical fitness certificate, along with ensuring that adequate police verification has been done for the staff.
- Proper nutritious food must be provided to the child, and dressing rooms for children and adults must necessarily be separate.
- Children below the age of six must not be exposed to any harmful cosmetics, lighting, or anything that may cause irritation.
- The set must contain arrangements for rest and recreational activities for the child.
- The child actors shall deposit at least 21% of their income in their own bank account in a nationalized bank
- Child must not be made to enter into an agreement that renders the child as a bonded labourer within the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 .
Penalties under the Act:
Penalties are additionally made more stringent. In case any legal guardian, parent, or producer violates the above-mentioned guidelines, they may face “imprisonment for a term of six months to two years, or a fine of twenty thousand rupees to fifty thousand rupees, or both” . Further, specific legislations for penalties shall apply for case-specific crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Child and Adolescent Labour Act, 1986, and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The updated guidelines do provide the much-needed framework for child entertainers. They keep the physical and psychological well-being, vulnerability, and sensitivity of children in consideration. Even though it may seem that the guidelines have a very paternalistic tone to them, they are important for safeguarding child artists and ensuring a healthy work environment for them. However, the implementation may again be a difficult barrier to pass. Especially considering the rising influence and competition within the various platforms available. It is yet to be seen whether these guidelines end up making a positive change that the entertainment industry is in dire need of.
 Child Rights and You is an Indian non-governmental organization, started in 1979, that work towards ensuring children’s rights and has impacted the lives of over three million children
 Child Rights and You (CRY), 2021, “Child Artists in India: An Exploratory Study in Mumbai, India”, June 2022, New Delhi
 The International Labour Organization is a United Nations Agency whose mandate is to advice social and economic justice by setting international labour standards
 International Labour Standards on Child Labour, International Labour Organization, (Jan 7th, 2022, 2:02 PM) https://www.ilo.org/global/standards/subjects-covered-by-international-labour-standards/child-labour/lang–en/index.htm
 C138 – Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), International Labour Organisation (ILO)
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 Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138), Article 8
 California’s Coogan Law, California Family Code 6750-6753, (Jan 7th, 2022, 2:11 PM) https://childreninfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Coogan_CALaw2015.pdf
 Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, No. 61, Acts of Parliament, 1986 (India)
 The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, § 3 (b)
 The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, § 3 (b), Proviso
 Lucy Rana & Rupin Chopra, Child Actors and Child Labour Laws, Mondaq (Jan 8th, 2022, 7:50 PM), https://www.mondaq.com/india/media-entertainment-law/614290/child-actors-and-child-labour-laws
 Amole Gupta and Partho on ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’, Indian Express (Jan 8th, 2022, 7:52 PM), https://www.newindianexpress.com/entertainment/2011/may/15/amole-gupte-and-partho-on-stanley-ka-dabba-253344.html
 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, General Assembly Resolution 1386(XIV), available at https://cpd.org.rs/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/1959-Declaration-of-the-Rights-of-the-Child.pdf
 Komal Ganotra, Children who work in films and TV shows need to be protected, Scroll.in (Jan 8th, 2022, 7:58 PM), https://scroll.in/reel/843350/children-who-work-in-films-and-tv-shows-need-to-be-protected
 Draft Regulatory Guidelines for Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry or Any Commercial Entertainment Activity, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) available at https://ncpcr.gov.in/uploads/165606353162b5862bf25fb_draft%20media%20guidelines.pdf
 The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India)
 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 2015 (India)
 Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
 The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, No. 32, Acts of Parliament, 2012 (India)
 NCPCR issues guidelines for protection of child artists, Journals of India (Jan 8th, 2022, 8:14 PM), https://journalsofindia.com/ncpcr-issues-guidelines-for-protection-of-child-artistes/?print=pdf
 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, § 77
 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, No. 35, Acts of Parliament, 2009 (India)
 The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, No. 19, Acts of Parliament, 1976 (India)
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