Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso
Since gaining its independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has trodden down a rather tumultuous path. Through political instability in the 1960s and 70s to frequent terrorist attacks in the 2010s (with over 100 confirmed extremist attacks in the first quarter of 2019), Burkina Faso has been plagued by constant insecurity.

Currently, Burkina Faso has a 77 percent unemployment rate, despite the country’s slight growth in gross domestic product (GDP) over the last three years. These high unemployment rates, combined with the tumultuous economic and political fields, fuse to create poor living and working conditions, paving the way for human trafficking, which seemingly envelops every facet of life. From agriculture to mining, human trafficking in Burkina Faso is an issue that must be addressed.

Human Trafficking in Burkina Faso

The U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Persons has established a four-tier ranking to describe a country’s status regarding the presence of and efforts to eradicate human trafficking. These ranks range from tier one, which details countries that comply with 2008’s Anti-Trafficking Laws, to tier two, tier two (watchlist), and tier three, which denotes countries that both do not comply with these laws and have made very little effort in meeting the standards set forth by these laws.

Burkina Faso is currently designated as a tier two nation. The U.S. Department of State emphasizes that the country, as a whole, has not met the standards set forth in 2008, though progress has been made in attempts to combat the issue of human trafficking through awareness campaigns and the steady increase of investigations in trafficking cases.

Burkina Faso is a current source, throughway and destination for human and sex trafficking. According to the Department of State’s 2019 report on human trafficking, the Burkinabe government has identified at least 851 victims of trafficking, and 2,844 potential victims of trafficking (including an estimated 1,350 homeless children, according to Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Women). However, these numbers are still estimates from incomplete data from somewhere between 30 and 45 of Burkina Faso’s 45 provinces.

Despite the lack of concrete data, the Burkinabe government has been able to identify more at-risk populations during 2018 than in previous years due to a stark rise in awareness and attentiveness. Currently, however, Burkina Faso’s government still lacks the resources to totally dismantle the seemingly institutionalized trade.

Current Governmental Measures

Burkina Faso’s government has made efforts to support those that it has identified as potential trafficking victims, as well as those who are subjected to harsh working conditions in general, by creating shelters to provide food, clothing and security. However, these shelters are rarely found outside of large metropolitan areas and are only able to house a certain number of victims at once. Furthermore, while this support is essential, it does not solve human trafficking in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso lacks the tools necessary to fully abolish human trafficking. While funding and staffing-power are certainly absent, lack of information and data appear to be the largest obstacles standing in the way of progress.

Missing police reports and insufficient data blur the complete picture of human trafficking in Burkina Faso. It has been reported that 61 traffickers were convicted in 2018, though it is unclear how significant these prosecutions have been in combatting the industry as a whole. Furthermore, the sentences doled out to these traffickers did not meet the standards of 2008’s anti-trafficking law, another contributing factor to Burkina Faso’s tier two status.

To prevent future human trafficking, the Ministry of Women and the Burkinabe government have assembled a committee designed to oversee the reduction and eventual eradication of human trafficking in Burkina Faso, though, this committee did not convene during the U.S. Department of State’s reporting period, and failed to produce any full-fledged intervention due to insufficient resources.

Furthermore, additional measures have been made to ensure that children are kept out of poor labor conditions. Even without sufficient funding, the Burkinabe government was able to free 20,000 child workers from mines between the years of 2015 and 2019.

Current Non-Governmental Measures

Collaborative work and interventions between Burkina Faso’s government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have yielded more promising results than those spearheaded solely by the government. While these coalitions still lack the resources for a more chronic, wide-spread response to human trafficking, they have disseminated information about human trafficking, hopefully preventing certain populations from getting enveloped in the trade. This increase in awareness of human trafficking among the general Burkinabe population helps facilitate change. The more citizens are mindful of human trafficking, the higher chance that more might be done about the issue.

NGOs have also played an important role in advocating for greater police training to combat and limit stigma around certain occupations, such as prostitution. UNAids recently partnered with REVS PLUS, a French NGO, to assist in the training of the police forces in Burkina Faso to help provide adequate medical care to sex workers.

Moving Forward

Burkina Faso has made strides in combatting and preventing human trafficking through heightened awareness. That said, there is still work to be done in the area. The creation of subcommittees to form a more “boots-on-the-ground” approach has gained enough ground to educate a significant portion of the population on the issue at hand (over 500,000, with about four percent of this number being children).

Advocacy and awareness are only the first steps to improving conditions for those at-risk for trafficking, those currently being trafficked and for all Burkinabe people in general. Action steps, such as the continuation of prosecuting and convicting human traffickers, appear to be trending upward, though improvement can be seen in this area. It is also important to address the other issues plaguing Burkina Faso; continuing economic growth and maintaining political stability will go a long way in abolishing human trafficking in Burkina Faso.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

illegal mica minesIf you’ve ever used glittery lipstick or eyeshadow, there’s a good chance the products used contained mica, a brittle, shiny mineral which creates a glittering effect in everything from makeup to paint to toothpaste. According to the Responsible Mica Initiative, there’s a one in four chance that the glitter in that makeup came from an illegal mine that supported child labor.

Where does Mica come from?

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s mica comes from India, particularly from region of Jharkhand where the world’s largest mica deposits can be found. Despite its mineral wealth, the region is plagued by poverty and hunger. Of the 33 million people who live in Jharkhand, 13 million are living below the poverty line. This makes Jharkhand one of the poorest regions in India.

Almost half of the children there are underweight while nearly half of its children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth. In addition, illiteracy is also common. In the rural areas of Jharkhand, the percentage of women who are literate is barely more than 45 percent. Because of this poverty, child labor has become common. Having no other options, many families allow their children to find work instead of going to school.

The mica mines in the region, many of which are run by cartels, are more than willing to take advantage of this. While employing miners under the age of eighteen is illegal, it is estimated that around 20,000 children and teenagers in Jharkhand are working for mica mines. However, it’s hard to say if this is the true number, given that all of these children are working for mines that do not officially exist.

The Dangers of Mica Mining

Some of these children are as young as five, and the nature of their work leaves them completely unprotected from the danger of the mines. These “ghost” mines, as the illegal mines are sometimes called, operate without any sort of safety regulations. The hollowed-out caves often collapse, frequently crushing miners or trapping them underground.

While the true number can’t be found, some estimates claim that at least two to five children die in the mica mines each month. Many of these deaths are never reported because of the risk they would pose to the mica industry. One mica miner recalled the story of a woman who had fallen into the mines and died, but her death certificate claimed that the cause of death was a fall from a two-story building.

Even without that risk, other dangers include the risk of being stung by scorpions that hide under the rocks and cutting themselves. In addition, many miners end up breathing in silica dust, which can lead to silicosis, a chronic respiratory condition that leads to breathing difficulties and eventual scarring in the lungs. Many workers also run a high risk of contracting asthma or black lung disease.

To add insult to injury, miners usually receive a pittance for their work, especially underage miners. One child reported that his usual daily pay was about 50 rupees or less than $1. Worst of all, reports on illegal mica mining show that ghost mines aren’t an anomaly in Jharkhand. Some claim that at least 70 percent of the region’s exported mica is illegally mined.

The Solution

How will the makeup industry and makeup buyers distance themselves from the cruelty and corruption that supplies so much mica? One answer is to stop using mica or to ensure that the mica they use is ethically sourced. As the world becomes aware of the plight of the Jharkhand miners, this is what many makeup companies are doing. In January 2018, the company Lush began using synthetic mica, which is produced in a lab.

Other companies are calling for a more ethical supply chain. The Responsible Mica Initiative, an alliance formed between cosmetics companies including l’Oreal, Chanel and Estee Lauder, has the goal of eradicating child labor in mica production within the next five years. Along with their efforts to ensure that their companies only use ethically sourced mica, the Initiative is working with the Indian government and local authorities to empower communities in the Jharkhand region in hopes of cutting off the region’s dependence on predatory mica mines.

Cracking Down on Illigal Mines

Meanwhile, the Indian government has been doing what they can to crack down on illegal mines. After an ongoing investigation, including the investigation of several unreported deaths in the Jharkhand region, the Indian government has begun pushing to legalize mica mining again. If more mines become legal, the logic goes, they would have to allow for accountability regarding how they treat their workers and they wouldn’t be able to employ children or teenagers.

Many experts agree, however, that the key to stopping predatory illegal mines is ensuring that the people of Jharkhand do not have to depend on those mines to survive. This is what the Responsible Mica Initiative is aiming to do by empowering villages in rural Jharkhand. Its empowerment programs involve efforts to have more children enrolled in school, to educate people on alternate sources of income, to improve healthcare in villages and to strengthen local institutions.

In a region afflicted with poverty and crippled by its dependence on mica, the issue goes far deeper than simply eradicating illegal mines. However, with the persistance of makeup companies and organizations like the Responsible Mica Initiative, the region may be able to climb out of poverty and break the cycle of child exploitation that has plagued it for so long.

– Keira Charles

Photo: Flickr

 

Child Labor in MyanmarChild labor in Myanmar continues to be a concern for one of the poorest nations in Asia. It is estimated that 1.13 million children, ages 5 through 17 work as laborers in Myanmar. This amounts to 9.3 percent of the child population. Said conditions are a violation of human rights and deprivation of well being.

Impact of Poverty

The prime factor of involvement of children in the workforce is poverty. With more than 32 percent of the nation living below the national poverty line, children work to supplement low household incomes.

However, employers exploit children and pay extremely low rates. In some cases, children as young as 14, working in garment-producing factories, make as little as 17  cents per hour; Yet, the nation’s minimum wage is $3.60.

Government Involvement in Child Trafficking

In August 2017, it was estimated 690,000 people fled from Myanmar due to acts of violence caused by the Myanmar government. Of those, nearly 400,000 were children.

In Myanmar, there is an abundance of trafficking, with little to no intervention. Frequently, the displacement of young girls to China is due to trafficking, for work, or marriage to Chinese men as child brides.

Additionally, Myanmar also has the highest number of child soldiers globally. In these cases, young boys against their will have to comply with captor commands. These commands are in sync with militarization goals and tactics.

Impact of Child Labor

One prominent consequence of child labor in Myanmar is the lack of education among children. One in five children drops out of school in order to work. In Myanmar culture, it is socially acceptable and common to see children working, rather than in school. Also, children who are in the workforce usually have little awareness, nor education about their safety and health rights in the workplace, leading to a high risk of fatal injuries.

The agricultural industry employs 60.5 percent of children in the workforce. Construction and fellow small-scale industries also have a significant role in employing child laborers. Just over half of these children perform potentially hazardous work that is likely to harm their physical or psychological health. Children as young as 15 to 17 make up 74.6 percent of the child workforce exposed to hazardous jobs.

The Intervention of Child Trafficking in Myanmar

Although child labor in Myanmar is widespread, the government of Myanmar is addressing this issue with the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The Myanmar Program on the Elimination of Child Labor Project was a four-year program (2013-2017) funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, overseen by the ILO. The goals of this project were to increase awareness of children in the workforce while improving the legal and institutional laws concerning child labor.

The Myanmar government ratified the ILO Convention No.182 which prohibits the worst forms of childhood labor and is in the process of finalizing the country’s first National Action Plan. This proposal outlines ways to reduce child labor in Myanmar while improving the lives of the children all together.

Child labor in Myanmar is a prominent issue as it affects millions of lives. There is, however, a reason to be optimistic, as the Myanmar government and fellow organizations have begun prevention protocols, ensuring a better future for the children of Myanmar.

– Marissa Pekular

 

Photo: Flickr

Child laborChild labor affects 150 million children worldwide. Child labor can take many forms, but the most common is defined as strenuous and dangerous work that is carried out by a child and does not abide by national and international child labor legislation. Many of these children are deprived of education, proper nutrition and a childhood without sports or playtime. Keep reading to learn more about the top 15 child labor facts everyone needs to know.

15 Child Labor Facts Everyone Needs to Know

  1. The agricultural industry makes up 71 percent of child labor in the world. Agricultural labor can include but is not limited to forestry, subsistence and commercial farming, fishing and livestock herding. Children may have to work on farms in long, unbearable heat.
  2. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 73 million of the 152 million children being forced into child labor are experiencing hazardous labor. Ages between 15 and 17 years old make up 24 percent of child labor and experience more hazardous forms of labor than other age groups.
  3. More than half of child labor around the world is found in Africa. One in five African children is subject to child labor. Between 2012 and 2016, there was no reduction in child labor in Africa although there was some improvement in other areas of the world. Areas with more conflicts and disaster are more likely to experience child labor.
  4. In Africa, 85 percent of child labor is in the agricultural sector. The service sector is responsible for eight million children working, and about two million are working in the industry sectors.
  5. The ages of child laborers range from five to 17 years old. However, the majority of child labor comes from the ages of five to 11 years old. Children ages 12 to 14 years old make up about 28 percent.
  6. There is a large gender gap between girls and boys regarding child labor. Eighty-eight million boys are affected by child labor worldwide, but about 20 million fewer girls are affected by child labor.
  7. Two-thirds of all children in child labor go unpaid.
  8. Research has found that housework and chores are often neglected when children are involved in child labor. However, girls between the ages of five and 14 years old account for more than 21 hours of chore labor every week.
  9. Alliance 8.7 and UNICEF are backing the goal of Target 8.7 in regards to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Target 8.7 concentrates on measures to reduce all child labor, child slavery and human trafficking worldwide. The organization hopes to end child labor by 2025.
  10. Child labor greatly affects education and children staying in school. Thirty-six million children are not getting an education because of child labor. For those children who do go to school and work, their work still affects their performance and ability to succeed in school.
  11. Although African countries lead with the highest rates of child labor, Asia and the Pacific have 62 million child laborers. The ILO reported that other countries, such as the Americas, have about 10 million child laborers, and the Arab states have the lowest with 1.2 million children.
  12. Two-thirds of children are employed by their families and their companies. But, only 4 percent of those children are paid. The remaining one-third of children working is left to work for third parties.
  13. Children in the age range between 15 and 17 years-old are above the minimum age to work. Even though these children are not young children, they are often actively engaging with work that can affect their health.
  14. Child labor has many circumstances surrounding and affecting it, such as poverty, migration, emergencies and social norms.
  15. Since 2000, child labor for girls has dropped 40 percent and for boys has dropped 25 percent. In addition, there are 136 million children fewer children being affected by child labor around the world.

The 15 child labor facts presented show that children are still being affected by child labor around the world. While organizations such as UNICEF, International Labor Organization, the Human Rights Watch and Alliance 8.7 are working towards eradicating child labor, it still is an issue that is affecting our world.

– Logan Derbes

Photo: Pixabay

International Children’s Peace Prize WinnersThe International Children’s Peace Prize, which was launched in 2005 by KidsRights, recognizes young people who are actively fighting for children’s rights. The mission behind the award is to provide children with a platform where they can express their ideas, stories and personal involvement so that more children can gain access to the basic human rights they deserve.

Each year, the winner of this prestigious award receives a study and care grant and a platform to promote their ideas to help other children around the world. Also, KidsRights invests £100,000 in a project fund in the winner’s area of work in their home country.

Here are three children who have won the International Children’s Peace Prize.

3 International Children’s Peace Prize Winners

  1. Nkosi Johnson was the first winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize, receiving the honor posthumously. The statuette that the organization gives out each year is named in his memory. Johnson was born HIV positive and died at the age of 12. However, in his short life, he actively fought for his and other children’s right to attend school and be treated equally. He opened a home for poor mothers and children with HIV/AIDS and encouraged the South African government to provide HIV/AIDS mothers with treatment options.
  2. At age 5, Om Prakash Gurjar and his family were forced to work on a farm to pay off the money his father owed to his landlord. Gurjar only received two meals a day and was beaten on a daily basis. He was not able to pursue his education further because he was working many hours a day to help his family. However, when he turned 8 years old, he was rescued by Kailash Satyarthi who was part of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan. This organization educated Gurjar about children’s rights and he received an opportunity to continue his education. At this point, he started advocating for the rights of other children and through many activities raised awareness for children’s rights and the importance of education. By the time he turned 12 years old, he was elected Chair of the Child Parliament of his school. When his school started demanding fees from parents, he sued and won a court case which required the school to refund his parents in his full. Gurjar won the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2006.
  3. Kesz Valdez became the first Southeast Asian to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize. At a young age, he was surrounded by poverty. When Valdez was just 2 years old, his abusive father forced him to collect garbage to earn money. At the age of 4 years old, he ran away from home and ended up begging on the streets. The turning point in his life came when he fell into a burning pile of garbage at a dump site and a social worker took him to the hospital. From that point on, the social worker took care of Valdez and took him under his wing. He got the opportunity to go to school for the first time and made the most of it.But he never forgot his roots. Once he was in a position to do so, he began distributing gifts to children living on the streets. This is how ‘Gifts of Hope’ started which signified Valdez’s first step in advocating for children’s rights. Gifts of Hope started with only seven boxes during its first year and now about 1,000 boxes are distributed every year.

Each year, the International Children’s Peace Prize recognizes children that have done extraordinary things to change their own destinies as well as help other young people around the world. 

Komalpreet Kaur
Photo: Unsplash

Child Trafficking in Ghana
Ghana, as a country, represents an epicenter for a vicious cycle where many men, women and children are victims of trafficking. This topic is a huge challenge for the country. Countless of Ghana’s children are taken from their homes and brought to work in poor conditions, mostly in the fishing industry. These young children are then forced to work long hours and live in squalor.

It is more common for boys to be forced into hard labor that includes things as diving into the water to untangle the fishing nets, while girls are sent to the Middle East where they become domestic workers in households or prostitutes being obligated to sell their bodies. According to the Head of the Counter-Trafficking Department of the International Organization for Migration child trafficking in Ghana is actually a distortion of the old cultural practice of placement with relatives or townspeople.

Statistics of Child Trafficking

Three thousand children are victims of child trafficking each day worldwide. It is estimated that child trafficking is an industry that earns $10 million yearly, but what are the factors that can cause a child to be trafficked? One prominent factor is lack of education and this certainly is one of the causes of child trafficking in Ghana as 623,500 children in Ghana are not even enrolled in school.

Extreme poverty also plays an issue in child trafficking as families sometimes leave their children behind or give their children to the traffickers. There is a large number of street kids who are easy prey to the traffickers who offer them the allure of a better life. Over 40 million babies are born every year and fail to be identified. Invisible children or the absence of birth registration happens when a child is born and is never registered with the local government or council. These children are perfect victims for child traffickers.

Challenging Heights’ Work

One organization that is currently working as an advocate for the right to a safe and protected home for every child in Ghana is Challenging Heights. James Kofi Annan founded the organization in 2003 and advocates for children rights. Annan was a fishing slave himself and was forced to work for seven years before he escaped, got an education and became a bank manager.

Challenging Heights is an organization committed to ending child trafficking in Ghana, reducing child slavery and promoting children’s rights in the country. They are currently focused on child labor, especially in the fishing and cocoa industry. As many as 24,000 children are victims of worst forms of child labor annually in Ghana. Challenging Heights’ works on improving child rights through three types of agendas: rescuing, preventing and advocating.

Challenging Heights also works to economically empower the women of Ghana. One plan that this organization has implemented is opening a smokehouse where the women can preserve the fish caught by the fisherman. The women can use the smokehouses free of charge and then they are able to sell their fish within the community, helping them make an income for their families. Challenging Heights also offers youth empowerment Programs. These programs teach children a certain career skill and offer training programs to hopefully set the youth up on the right track towards obtaining an education or a job.

Lake Volta Actions

Many of Challenging Heights rescue missions take place at Lake Volta. The Lake was built in the 1960s and is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. Lake Volta is a way of life for most fisherman and people in the country where about 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Children are most often exploited by fishermen desperate to feed their families and eke out a living along the banks of Lake Volta. With help from locals in the community, Challenging Heights makes several recuses a year. The liberated children are taken back to Challenging Heights rehabilitation house and offered care. This care can vary from medical, psychological or emotional. Each child stays with the organization for almost a year while their families are interviewed and assessed in hopes that this will deter them from falling back into child trafficking.

Thanks to Challenging Heights, more than 1,500 children have been rescued and 400 children have been given proper care in the organization’s rehabilitation center. The overall goal for this organization is to end child trafficking in Ghana by 2022. Currently, 103,300 people in Ghana are trapped in modern-day slavery. Challenging Heights hopes to combat this number by advocating for the victims, partnering with the government and nongovernmental organizations all while having the goal of ending child trafficking in Ghana in mind.

– Jennifer O’Brien

Photo: Pixabay

Child Labor
Child labor is defined as the employment of children who are under the legal working age. Currently, there are about 265 million children engaged in child labor around the world. While this is clearly not ideal, there has been a reduction in child labor across the globe, from 23 percent of children working in 2000 to close to 17 percent in 2012. Many countries whose laws once allowed for child labor now protect their children from such harsh conditions instead.

Where Countries Are Based on Levels of Income

There are four basic income levels. Level 1 is extreme poverty; the family can barely afford to eat and must get water from wells. Level 2 is lower-middle income; the family can afford decent food and shoes. Level 3 is upper-middle income; the family can afford running water and basic appliances. Level 4 is high income; the family can afford a nice house and cars.

The higher a family’s income, the less likely they are to have their children work from a young age. Likewise, the higher a country’s income, the less likely they are to approve of child labor. We can see the likelihood of child labor by looking at the income level of different countries.

Level 4: Ireland

In 18th and 19th century Ireland, children were routinely put to work because they could be paid less than what adult workers were paid, they could operate certain machines that adults could not and it was believed that they would grow up to be harder workers. In many cases, children aged 3 to 7 were outright kidnapped by organized trade rings and forced to do whatever work their masters wanted them to.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1996 changed all of that. Under this law, Irish employers cannot make children younger than 16 work full time. Additionally, employers cannot hire anyone under age 14 at all. Children aged 14 to 15 can only do light work during school holiday periods, work in educational programs that are not harmful to their health or cultural enrichment jobs. On top of that, employees aged 18 or younger must receive a minimum of €6.69 per hour, which is 70 percent of the Irish adult minimum wage.

Level 3: Croatia

In Croatia, the legal minimum age for work is 15. From the ages of 15 to 18 years old, children can only work with written permission from their parents, and inspections must show that the labor does not interfere with the child’s health, morality or education. In addition, anyone caught dealing in child prostitution in any way will face a three to 10-month prison sentence.

These laws have not stopped all child labor in Croatia. Roma children are often forced to beg in the streets, and Croatia experiences the active trafficking of young girls for prostitution. That said, the 2006-2012 National Program for the Protection of the Best Interests of Children made great strides in the reduction in child labor, particularly prostitution.

Level 2: Sudan

Of Sudan’s 37.96 million children, 45,600 are currently subject to child labor. Not only are there no laws against child labor, but the government also encourages it by kidnapping children in rural areas during military raids. These children start working at age 5, so they miss out on their educations, which otherwise would be compulsory.

However, Sudan has made strides in decreasing the child labor rate, including signing a Partnership Protocol Agreement with the European Union in 2008 and inspecting working environments to keep children from working in toxic conditions. Unfortunately, little has been done to help rural areas. Families have to migrate to urban areas or to other countries to escape labor and let their children get an education. Although, escape from Sudan is illegal and far from easy, it is still possible.

Level 1: Niger

The child labor rate in Niger is 42.8 percent. The jobs that young children are made to perform include agriculture, mining, caste-based servitude and forced begging. The government has set up a number of programs to reduce child labor, including Centers for Education, Legal, and Preventative Service; The Project to Reduce Child Labor in Agriculture; and The World Bank Country Program. However, these programs have made only moderate advances in stopping child labor.

Child labor continues to be a problem in the world today. Poor and corrupt countries are quick to put children to work because the children do not require high wages. However, laws and legislation all over the world have resulted in a global reduction in child labor. It has not stopped child labor altogether, but a little progress is better than none at all. The fight to end child labor continues.

Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Saharan Africa
Child labor is a major concern for the future of developing nations. This represents a practice that hinders the development of the poorest nations on the planet while simultaneously hampering the development of their future generations. This practice has a large impact on the youngest among us; however, we do have reason to be optimistic that, together, we can end the exploitation of children.

Top 10 Facts About Child Labor

  1. Currently, reports indicate that approximately 168 million children are exploited by child labor around the world. Of those 168 million, approximately 100 million are boys and 68 million are girls.
  2. Poverty and lack of educational opportunities are the main factors that often force children to work because children must work in order to help their families financially. Furthermore, if children have limited access to education, many are forced to turn to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.
  3. Most children work in the agricultural sectors, growing cash-crops like coffee or cocoa that are then shipped to richer, more developed countries.
  4. Emergencies or crises often force children to work. Take Syria for example; many of the families that have fled the country have young children. In many cases, these children have to work in order to help the family overcome the hardships associated with fleeing their war-torn country.
  5. The highest incidence of child labor takes place in sub-Saharan Africa. This is due, in part, to the high levels of poverty in the area and the need for unskilled labor to work on the many cash-crop producing farms.
  6. Due to an increase in awareness and work of several organizations, child labor is on the decline. Between 2000 and 2012, the total number of children being exploited for their labor has declined from 245 million to 168 million children.
  7. Consumers can help end child labor by being well-informed and making sure that companies they buy from do not engage in child labor practices. While this might require more research from the consumer, it is a critical step in ensuring that child labor ends.
  8. Access to education opportunities can end child labor. If parents can send their children to a safe, quality school, then they may encourage them to stay in school and continue their education instead of immediately trying to work.
  9. U.N. member states adopted 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development in 2015. These Goals included ending all forms of slavery, child labor and exploitation by 2025.
  10. Individuals can make a difference in helping to end child labor by contacting their representatives and senators in Congress or other government officials and encouraging them to support legislation and initiatives that help end global poverty. In doing so, those individuals become advocates for children’s rights and help eliminate some of the conditions and causes of child labor. People can also get involved through groups like The International Labor Organization (ILO), which works with governments to set labor standards and prevent forced and child labor.

Now more than ever, there is a reason to be optimistic about ending the exploitation of children for labor. As the facts show, child labor is decreasing and many global programs are working to end it once and for all. Hopefully, these top 10 facts about child labor will encourage you to act. As consumers, we can demand that businesses do not exploit the labor of children. As concerned citizens and voters, we can demand that our leaders work to address this problem and end it forever.

– Raymond Terry

Photo: Flickr

Child Labor
Mexico has a population of 116 million, and half of the population lives below the poverty line. These impoverished conditions make the people of Mexico desperate for work, including young children, and such a struggle creates a significant amount of child labor in Mexico.  

Child Labor and Exploitation

Children are exploited on a daily basis in Mexico and are put in danger doing their jobs. In an interview with Aljazeera, a 16-year-old boy named Albino, who has been out of school since he was 12, stated: “You just devote yourself to your work and you’re proud that you no longer play with small children.”

Albino says he only gets to see his family every 20 days and he gives them half of all the money he makes. He does regret leaving school, but he is glad he can help his parents with money.

Albino’s story is not unusual; actually, his tale is very typical for child laborers in Mexico. Young children often have to provide for themselves or help provide for their families, which causes many of them to go into dangerous work for very low pay. About 3.5 million children in Mexico work carrying wood or cement, or as servants.

Typical Child Laborer Jobs and Risks

It’s estimated that of the children that work in Mexico, 40 percent are not old enough to work legally and 60 percent are working in conditions considered dangerous to their mental and physical health, and safety.

These children are working jobs in fields, on the streets, in dangerous factories and around many other unsafe places with horrible working conditions. Children go up and down the streets just to sell various objects to anyone willing to buy, and such a sale will barely provide food for that specific day in Mexico. Children working in the fields work sunrise to sunset (or even longer), and 1 out of 4 workers is 13 years old or younger.

Influential Allies

The government has tried to help combat the issue of child labor in Mexico. In 1997, a program called Prospera started and it offers “conditional cash transfers” to Mexican citizens. This stipend is supposed to be an incentive for Mexican families to keep their children in formal education while attending workshops on things like sex education and family planning.

Another program that offers “conditional cash transfers” is a program called Oportunidades. Much like ‘Prospera,’ participating families will get money from the government provided that the children stay in school, all family members get regular medical check-ups and mothers attend health workshops.

Although child labor in Mexico is prevalent, it has dramatically decreased over the past decade. This can be attributed to parents having a better education and to government programs like Prospera and Oportunidades intervening in difficult situations.

Improvement on the Rise

There are 40 percent fewer children aged 12-14 years in the labor force compared to just ten years ago, and there’s also been a dramatic increase in the number of children remaining in school. In addition, 93 percent of children from 12-14 years old are attending school.

These numbers will continue to grow if new generations continue to acquire an education, allies provide needed support and Mexican citizens do not enter the workforce at such young ages.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Child Miners
An estimated 1 million children worldwide work as miners. These are 10 facts about child miners in the world today.

Key Child Miners Facts

  1. Child miners can be found in parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Most of these children, from economically downtrodden backgrounds, are either uneducated or school-dropouts, with the exception of a few who attend both work and school. They work in inhumane and dangerous conditions to extract minerals and ores in high demand in the global market.
  2. Mining is considered one of the worst forms of child labor as the hazardous working conditions in mines adversely affect the safety and health of children.
  3. One of the facts about child miners working in the artisanal mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is they contribute to the production of cobalt, coltan, copper and tin. These materials are used in the fabrication processes of modern electronics like laptops and cell phones. Of the 2 million miners in DRC’s artisanal mines, 40 percent are children and their earnings range from $0.75 to $3 a day. In 2017, Amnesty International warned the world of the use of child labor in cobalt mining and urged large companies to be wary of purchasing unethically mined cobalt.
  4. Poverty, lack of educational and economic opportunities, corruption, lenient law-enforcement and the soaring demands for mined materials in the global market are primary reasons for the prevalence of child labor in mines.
  5. Cobalt mining often involves injuries, death and health hazards. Stone mining causes dehydration, respiratory infections and accidents. Gold mining exposes children to toxic vapors and mercury-poisoning, and mining salt exposes child miners to dizziness, skin problems and iris discoloration.
  6. Stone quarries in Guatemala are often found along public shores, where poor families set up camps to mine volcanic river rocks. These are then sold to construction companies at low prices. According to reports by the International Labour Organization (ILO), it takes three days for a 13-year-old boy to produce one cubic meter of gravel that sells for $7.50. Children as young as five are found collecting and breaking rocks with hammers in these mines. Both adults and children work eight hours a day, six to seven days a week. The quarries in Nepal are reported to have child miners between ages 10 to 12. Girls and boys in Madagascar’s stone quarries also work long hours collecting and crushing blocks of stones.
  7. Of the 10 facts about child miners in the world, gold mining deserves a special mention as it exposes children to mercury-poisoning, which is extremely likely due to the nature of gold extraction. Child gold miners are often found in the Sahel region of Africa (mainly in Burkina Faso and Niger). High levels of poverty in the region forces families to send children under 18 to work in the mines. They constitute 30 to 50 percent of the entire gold-mining workforce. These children work with heavy and primitive equipment to break rocks and transport them to washing, crushing and mineral processing. Children often work underground in narrow shafts and galleries.
  8. The ILO estimates 10,000 children are involved in gold mining in Ghana and more than 65,000 children work in the mines of Bolivia, Peru and Equador. According to a study by the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), many instances of illegal mining occur in Côte d’Ivoire, where children are often trafficked from neighboring areas and held in slavery-like conditions. Mongolia and the Philippines are some of the other countries with child miners.
  9. IPEC has been working hard to ensure that children in areas like Niger and Senegal are protected from joining the salt mining business. A highly labor-intensive process, mining salt includes harvesting (digging pits, filling and lifting sacks) and distilling salt alongside transporting ore and fuel to aid the process. Children participate in all stages of salt mining.
  10. Child labor is also widely used in the mica mining industry in India and Madagascar; talc mining in Brazil; coal, salt and gemstone mining in Pakistan; gold mining in China; gem mining in Sri Lanka.

Most countries in the world have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes the right to protect children from economic exploitation. Human Rights Watch believes boycotting goods produced from these mines is not the solution, as it would adversely affect the economy of these nations. Instead, in accord with U.N. Guiding Principles, it proposes that international companies that buy these products initiate programs to ensure they do not benefit from child labor in any manner. Consumers from developed nations like the U.S. and the U.K., which provide the main markets for these products, should also become more aware of where the products come from. These 10 facts about child miners do not represent all the complexities that involve the lives of child miners. International nonprofit organizations are still working to create awareness and acquire more data on the use of children in the mining industry.

– Jayendrina Singha Ray
Photo: Flickr