Child labor in the 19th

Child labor in the 19th

Child labor in the 19th century

Friday May 16, 2008

Child labor in the 19th century

Child labor in the 19th century was very dangerous for the children concerned. Accidents happened almost daily, which often resulted in death. 351 children died in the mines in 1838. Now the question arises, why the parents did not try to drive their children in front of it. The reason was the economic imbalance of this world and a vicious circle of poor social systems, lack of education, poverty and exploitation. According to United Nations statistics, in 2004, one in five people in developing countries had less than $ 1 a day at their disposal. It is not enough to support a family. The parents cannot afford the children to go to school or sometimes see no need at all. In some cultures, it is taken for granted that children must work as a sign of gratitude to support the family. However, this tradition can range from small jobs and a little help to brutal exploitation. This often means that the children have to bring money home, no matter how.

Often it’s about survival. Instead of learning and getting the right education, many children have to work from an early age. Often it is also a matter of working off the parents’ debts. There is so-called debt bondage, particularly in South Asia. Employers lend money to employees at exorbitant interest rates and don’t let them go until everything is paid back. Because of starvation wages, hardly any worker has the chance to raise the money and the interest payments. The debt is passed on to the next generation and all family members, including the children, become slaves to the entrepreneur.

Many of the child workers belong to minorities or other oppressed social groups. Girls, who are less valued than boys in many cultures, are particularly at risk. Instead of going to school, they have to work or even prostitute themselves. In Africa in particular, civil wars and the spread of AIDS also lead to many children being orphaned and then having to struggle on their own.

However, it was not just a few thousand, but around 246 million children who did not go to school but worked like adults, 10 hours and longer. They dragged boulders into quarries, sorted rubbish with a stinking stench, knotted carpets in poor light or worked in the fields. Child labor was often dangerous and always hard. In addition to the body, the soul also usually suffers, for example with the millions of girls and boys who are forced into prostitution. Child labor was a direct result of poverty.

Because when it comes to survival, every hand is needed. However, it was child labor that ensured that poverty remained. Because children who are not allowed to go to school do not become well-trained workers. That is why education for UNICEF has top priority in the fight against child labor.

Not all child labor was bad. There are important tasks that children could take on if they were not exploited. And above all: if school and relaxation were not neglected. UNICEF therefore differentiates between sensible and dangerous child labor. UNICEF is fighting against full-time work for children, too many hours a day; Work that ruins health, dangerous work, unjust or no wages, work that makes school impossible, sexual exploitation, bondage and slavery.

With us, in Switzerland, child labor has been prohibited for decades. Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere. Around the world there are still more than 190 million young people between the ages of 5-14. For them, one can only hope that a worldwide ban on child labor will soon be acquired.

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Christina Cherry
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