Protect Children From Hazardous Work

To survive, children in poverty have to find work to help their parents earn enough income to get food for family. For them, it is not a choice. For without decent work, they end up on the street as beggars or street gang members. Because these children need to work, I don’t think we should eliminate child labour as such. We should stop the abusive child labour by adults who push children into sex industries, prostitutions and the sale of drugs. Working children need protection from the work that expose them to physical and emotional harm – the worse form of child labour. In my travel working for UNICEF I have seen enough of the children who are forced to work in an unhealthy environment in a confined space of the mine without seeing daylight. They are exposed to dangerous gas and chemical substances that come out from deep underneath the earth. I have seen stone/marble cutters in India working and breathing in the dust all day long. And I have seen street kids in Thailand scarvenging to survive. Being homeless, they sleep on benches of the local market near to the sea shore where they can get up at dawn to steal newly-catch fishes from the fisherman’s boats just returned from all night of fishing. I have seen slum children in the Philippines collecting wastes materials on mountain-high piles and piles of smelly garbage in the heat of the tropical Sun. These horrible scenes have never left my mind. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 115 million children in hazardous work. There is an increase in hazardous work among older children of 20 per cent within the last four years and that fifty-three per cent of the 215 million child labourers worldwide do hazardous work. Now 173 ILO member countries have committed themselves to solve this problem as a matter of urgency The ILO Report on “Children Hazardous work: What We Know, What We Need To Do” gives valuable instrument for organizing community education on how to deal with this problem. Today, June the 13th, is the World Day Against Child Labour. The ILO online Questions and Answers on children in Hazardous work gives recent available information on how we can find a way to help these millions of children get out of the hazardous working condition in crop agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, domestic work, manufacturing, mining and quarrying, construction and associate industries, street and service sector work.

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