When you see child labourers, look for stories in their hands. Hear them and think what you can do to bring smile on their faces. I say this because despite being vulnerable — as their minds and bodies are still developing – every minute of every day, a child labourer somewhere in the world suffers a work-related accident, illness or trauma.
Children certainly have highter rates of injury and death at work and according to the International Labour Organisation, 115 million children worldwide work in hazardous jobs. This figure represents more than half of the world’s roughly 215 million child labourers, who work in everything from mining and construction to agriculture and manufacturing.
“Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide — and particularly in hazardous work — remains high.” says ILO Director-General Juan Somavia; and according to the UN agency, the largest number of children in hazardous jobs is in Asia and the Pacific, where children in that type of work represent 5.6% of all kids.
Hazardous work is among the worst forms of child labour which the international community has targeted for elimination by 2016. And hence we need to think how can we contribute. To begin with, can we pledge — not to engage a child labour; not to deal with anyone engaging child labour?
Hazardous work is more commonly found in agriculture including fishing, forestry, livestock-herding and aquaculture in addition to subsistence and commercial farming. Besides you find child labourers carrying heavy loads, working in shipbreaking, exposed to dangerous chemicals, plantations, spraying pesticides, operating dangerous machinery, working in mines, involved in deep water diving, in construction and brick kilns.
Most importantly, very often we find young girls working as domestic child labour, some of them even exposed to sexual abuses even. Isn’t it time to get these innocent children out of child labour and hazardous work? Take this as an investment in the children’s future and society in general. Well, this is possible. You begin a dialogue first. Try.
A report, “Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do,” has also been released by the ILO that cites studies from both industrialised and developing countries. It says that although the overall number of children aged 5 to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, the number aged 15-17 actually increased by 20 per cent during the same period, from 52 million to 62 million.
Thus persistence of child labour is a clear indictment of the prevailing model of growth. Let us tackle on an urgent basis the works that jeopardise the safety, health or morals of children. Let our children smile. Let life be beautiful for them, also.