Childworld trip – child labor

Childworld trip - child labor


Back child labor

Why do children work at all??

Maybe you have to help at home sometimes? Cover the table, mow the lawn, carry out the trash or clean it? You probably do not like it very much. But you help your parents or siblings. This is the case in many countries around the world. Only with the difference that in some countries this work is vital for the families. So many children help their parents with the field work, fishing, housework or take care of their siblings. Especially in African countries, it is common for children – often the girls – to be sent to fetch water. They then travel many miles to bring their precious water, which simply flows from the faucet, to their families.

There are many different types of child labor. This boy sells bread, that too is child labor. [© Xavier Gillet, Bordeaux, France / CC BY 2.0]
These guys come from work in the factory where they came in contact with paint. Now it’s time to wash off. [© Mak / CC BY-SA 3.0]
These children work as miners in Congo [© Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA 2.0]

Child labor must be prohibited! Or not?

This girl from Bangladesh has to do hard physical work. That should be banned, but it’s often not easy to control that. [© Shanjoy / CC BY 3.0]

"Child labor must be banned!", These are the demands of many countries and that is in principle of course correct. But not always a ban makes everything better. There is an example that children in Pakistan were no longer allowed to sew footballs. Pakistan is the country from which, for a long time, most hand-sewn footballs in the world came from. Today, that is no longer true, other countries like China have overtaken Pakistan.

Everyone was terribly upset when it came out that a lot of footballs sold by very well-known brands were made by children – plus a pittance. So one proceeded to prohibit the sewing by children’s hands. Great! Yes and no. In the end it came to the point that although the children no longer sewed footballs, they toiled in the brickworks of the country to further support their families. Nobody gets upset about that anymore. And nobody does it.

What is child labor??

These children are still very young and have to work already.

Child labor can manifest itself in different ways. The latest figures from 2017 say more than 150 million children work in the world. Most of them in Africa, every fifth child between the ages of five and 17 works here. Almost half of them do dangerous jobs that children are not allowed to do. By the way, child labor is actually banned in many countries where children work. Only nobody controls it or just sometimes and sometimes things just do not work out differently, because the living conditions of the families are so bad that everybody has to get involved.

So many children go to school only a short time to support their parents. Some children are orphans and somehow have to get their siblings through because nobody else would care for them. There are also children who are proud to help their parents, even if they prefer to go to school.

Prohibition or payment of child labor?

Many children want to be decently paid for their jobs, not having to work so long, and simply having rights that children usually do not have. Of course it would be much better if the children did not have to work at all, but unfortunately that is not so easy. Most parents would rather know their children at school than at field work or on the street selling flowers. So the changes in working conditions for the children are not a permanent solution, but already a first step in the right direction! So it is necessary to fight against exploitative child labor. But what exactly is exploitative now, you still get very different answers when you ask different people.

What is the minimum age convention?

This boy also works in Cambodia. [© David Villa / CC BY 2.0]

The International Labor Organization – abbreviated ILO has – in a convention, also called "Minimum Convention" is known to set an age limit. Children under 15 years are not allowed to work. But many states have not signed it, so they do not follow the rule. According to the rules of the ILO the following is forbidden:

  • Work of children younger than 13 years
  • Slavery, debt bondage and forced labor, so any work that compels children to work, even with violence
  • child prostitution
  • child soldiers
  • criminal work such as the smuggling of drugs
  • very dangerous work such as in mines and quarries, works that endanger the health of children.

Often child labor is not visible at all!

Child labor is often invisible and takes place at home, in courtyards or in the fields of families. Although this boy in Congo can attend school in the morning, he has to help his father in the afternoon. [© Julien Harneis / CC BY-SA 2.0]

Most people do not want to buy products that children have made. You therefore rightly have a guilty conscience. But we often do not know it, because many children do not work officially, e.g. in the factories where clothes are sewn or carpets are made. They often work in backyards or even at home and help their parents. They are not seen here. So the factory can be controlled and no child appears.

It would be helpful in dealing with child labor that the parents receive enough pay for their own work. Then they could feed their children and send them to school so they can find a better paid job later. Sounds simple, but it is often not in everyday life. As you can see, while the ban on child labor is a good thing at first glance, it is not always easy to do it in practice.

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Christina Cherry
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