The change starts within each one of us, and ends only when all children are free to be children. ” – Craig Kielburger
Families with normal lives and a steady income have parents who go to work and children who go to school and have time to play.
This is not the case for the 218 million child labourers who daily find themselves working long hours under harsh, dangerous and exploitative conditions.
Child labour is intolerable
Though definitions vary, child labour means work that is done by children under the age of 15 (14 in some developing countries) which restricts or damages a child's physical, emotional, intellectual, social and/or spiritual growth.
Why is this a human rights issue?
Children who work are subsequently subject to abuse, both physical and sexual, from their employers
They often work under conditions that are both unhealthy and potentially fatal. This scenario cannot continue.
Globally the majority of child labourers come from the poorer sections of society.
Social exclusion and discrimination are important factors that keep children out of school and force them to work. Ending poverty and increasing access to education are therefore crucial tools in the fight against ending child labour.
Why should we care?
"Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children." - Walt Disney Because of their unique and vulnerable position, children are denied the basic working rights and wages given to adults.
Improving access to education and attacking poverty head-on would go a long way to solving the challenges children face. We must help them in their struggle. Child labour is an issue is closely connected with poverty,
Most people agree that when we speak about child labour, we mean labour which is intolerable or harmful to children, or which denies them their right to fully develop, to play or to go to school. Child labour includes: • Work performed by children under the age of 15 • Long hours of work on a regular or full-time basis • Abusive treatment by the employer • No access, or poor access, to education
What is bonded labour?
There are 3 types of Bonded Labour :
• The first is when a child inherits a debt carried by his or her parents.
• Another form of bonded labour occurs when a child is used as collateral for a loan. For example, a parent facing an unusually large or urgent expense would use this method to obtain necessary money.
• Finally, a child worker can enter into bondage to their employer by requesting an advance on future wages they expect to earn.
In all of these cases, the debt is consistently increased, through interest, to a sum beyond the capacity of the worker to repay. Expenses and interest consume all wages and also cause the debt to grow.
Essentially, the child labourer becomes the property of the debt collector.
• Globally, 218 million children are child labourers. • 126 million of these children are engaged in hazardous work. • 73 million working children are less than 10 years old . • Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related accidents. • The largest number of working children-122 million-are in the Asia-Pacific region.
9 % are in industry, including mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction
The highest proportion of working children is in sub-Saharan Africa, where nearly one third of the children aged 14 and under (48 million children) are in the labour force.
Between 40 and 50 per cent of all forced labourers are children.
1.2 million of these children have been trafficked (bought and/or sold).
Where do children work?
Nearly 70% are in agriculture (rural children, especially girls, usually start working in this industry when they are very young, often between 5 and 7 years of age)
• 22% are in services, including wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, transport, personal services, etc
• 9% are in industry, including mining and quarrying, manufacturing and construction
Kumar, child labourer
"It was like a prison, we were locked inside. We worked from 5 a.m. until midnight making carpets and we slept among the machines."
Some causes of child labour Poverty
Poor families need to keep as many family members working as possible to ensure income security and survival. This makes it very difficult for poor families to invest in their children's education. In fact, educating a child can be a significant financial burden. In many instances "free" public education is in fact very costly to a poor family.
Poor families are expected to purchase books, school supplies and uniforms, and sometimes even pay teachers' wages.
Many poor families weigh the cost of sending their children to school against the cost of the income lost by sending their children to work.
Many children live in areas that do not have adequate school facilities, so they work. Many countries do not have free compulsory education for all, which is an obstacle to sending working children to school.
Poor households tend to have more children, and with large families there is a greater likelihood that children will work and have lower school attendance and completion.
Some employers hire children because they can pay them less money. They also offer poor working conditions because children are less likely to complain.
Why not make child labour illegal?
In countries all over the world, countless laws and policies against the exploitation of children already exist: the political will to enforce them however, does not.
FREE FROM EXPLOITATION
191 countries (almost every country in the world) agreed to recognize the right of children to "...be protected from economic exploitation and performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."
What needs to be done?
The international community has the funds to provide free primary education-a necessary tool to combat child labour.
• Better access to education
• Social awareness and activism
• The rehabilitation of child labourers.
• Legislation and proper enforcement child labour laws
In turn, governments need to devote resources to education so that: • Schooling is compulsory, of good quality and relevance, and is of little or no cost to poor families.
Success Story: In 1994, Malawi made primary education free. From one academic year to the next, enrolment increased by roughly 50 percent, and more of the new students were female than male.
Some initiatives that can be effective in combating child labour:
Improving child labour legislation and laws
Enforcement of child labour legislation and laws
Increasing quality, relevance and access to education
Equality for women and girls
Replace child workers with adults
Am I wearing a child’s work?
How do you know if what you are buying was made using child labour?
Consumers should check if labels state that the product is union made.
Watch for the labels of campaigns such as Rugmark who is working to end child labour in the carpet industry and Fairtrade Mark .
These types of labels provide a guarantee that children were not involved in the production of the item.
If you don't know ...ask! The sales staff may be able to provide you with the information you need. Then contact the company explaining your concern.
The Situation Today
there are 28 million fewer child labourers than there were four years ago!
This means that the work being done to stop child labour is truly creating positive change.
But there is still much more to be done.
300,000 children in India, Nepal and Pakistan are spending long days working in poor conditions.
Through independent certification and educational programs, RugMark is working to end child labor in the South Asian carpet industry, but they can’t do it alone — they need your help.
The Carpet Industry
Join a growing group of socially responsible consumers who are sending the powerful signal that they will not support products made with child labor or through inhumane working conditions.
Know someone who may be in the market for a handmade carpet? Tell them about the RugMark label- their peace of mind that no child labor was used to produce their carpet or rug.
An estimated 14 percent of children in India ages 5-14 are engaged in child labor activities, including carpet production. (The State of the World’s Children 2006, UNICEF)
There are many children who live near a garbage dump
Their families cannot support them so they search the dumps for something to sell.
The children collect the materials and recycle them for a small amount of money.
The children are at high risk as they are being constantly exposed to harmful gasses that come out of decomposing trash.
They also may cut their feet on glass and sharp objects since many of them cannot afford proper footwear.
Of the 250 million child laborers worldwide, it is estimated that at least half of them work in agriculture alone.
There are many different types of agricultural work. One of them is picking fruits and vegetables.
The work is physically demanding because the children must bend down, kneel, climb ladders, carry heavy loads of fruit, and other things.
They also are exposed to dangerous tools and have to use unsafe machinery they don't know how to operate.
They also are exposed to dangerous tools and have to use unsafe machinery they don't know how to operate.
Children who work in agriculture often experience back pain from bending over so much, and also have blistered and callused hands from operating machinery and using tools such as rakes, hoes, and shovels all day long.
A child working in the agricultural sector
This must be prevented
What is to be done?
Creating international laws that countries can adopt in order to stem child labor.
- the minimum age for employment for children. Many
accept this is 15.
- banning the import of some child-labor-made items.
- laws that ban child labor under a certain age,
actually enforcing these laws. Laws do absolutely no good when not enforced,
Governments should have a “minimum family income” that would be used to support poor families.
In Mexico and Brazil, two programs give parents an incentive to invest in their child’s future.
by giving families money if their children attend school regularly instead of working for.
In Brazil, for example, families receive $24, and the program reaches 11.4 million people (a fourth of Brazil’s population).
Naravan was a child labourer for about eight years in the carpet industry before he was rescued and placed in a special programme.
The achievement of human rights is an on-going battle.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are organizations dedicated to its development.
but there are many more players on the local level.
For example: citizens, communities, grassroots organizations, and governments.
to prevent human rights violations, raise awareness of human rights and responsibilities, secure respect for all human rights, and promote international cooperation to protect human rights.