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Child Labour

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Across the world, millions of children do extremely hazardous work in harmful conditions, that prevents them from getting education and is harmful to  their physical, mental, or social development. Every day, an estimated 168 million boys and girls work as child labourers, in the farms, fields, factories, homes, streets and battlefields. They face hunger, hard work, ill-health and poverty. Of this total, a staggering 85 million are engaged in hazardous work, which is illegal. Hazardous child labour means working in dangerous industries or in workplaces, where children are likely to meet exploitative situations by nature or circumstances of work. Some examples of hazardous working conditions are working in mines or with chemical and pesticides in agriculture. The term ’child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, right to free existence and work which harm their physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous  and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling by

  • depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
  • obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
  • requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities often at a very early age. Whether or not particular forms of ‘work’ can be called as ’child labour’ depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries.

According to International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182, “the worst forms of child labour” include:

  • All  forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • The use, procuring, or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances;
  • The use, procuring, or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  • Work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

At least 2 million children are trafficked annually for child labour and sexual exploitation. Most child labourers are in the informal economic sector, where they are not protected by laws and regulations. The worst forms of child labour are illegal and must be eradicated immediately.