Top 10 Facts about Child Labor in Liberia
Liberia, a country along the western coast of Africa, is Africa’s oldest republic and enjoyed relative stability until the civil war of 1989. This destructive civil war lasted from 1989 until 1997. Fighting, however, did not officially end until 2003. This war left the country without infrastructure and displaced approximately 300,000 people. Public services shut down and maternal and infant mortality rates increased, drastically affecting the number of people living in poverty. Below are the top 10 facts about child labor in Liberia everyone should know.

Top 10 Facts about Child Labor in Liberia:

  1. Approximately 16.6 percent of children in Liberia are employed. Of this 16.6 percent, 78.4 percent work in the agricultural field. Work in agriculture includes rubber and charcoal production and farming including the cocoa, cassava and coffee production. All of these industries are deemed hazardous by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  2. The minimum age for recruitment into the Armed Forces of Liberia is 18 years old. However, during the civil war and up until 2005, children were recruited to be a part of the army. In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated there were between 5,000 to 15,000 child soldiers in Liberia. During the civil war, former President Charles Taylor used children in his army who participated in rapes, murders, executions and dismemberments.
  3. Only 75.6 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 attend school. However, only 58.8 percent finish primary schooling. Longstanding consequences of the civil war and school closures during the 2015 Ebola outbreak have taken a toll on the Liberian education system. The cost of textbooks, uniforms and transportation all severely limit a child’s ability to attend school. Instead, children who do not attend school begin working.
  4. Children under the age of 15 are not legally allowed to work more than 2 hours of “light work” a day. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to do hazardous work. However, a 2018 Human Rights Report from the U.S. State Department found that the Child Labor Commission did not enforce child labor laws effectively due to inadequate staffing and underfunding.
  5. The 2018 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report detailed the widespread child labor infractions found throughout every socio-economic sector of the country. In urban areas, children work as street vendors or tap rubber on private farms. Other children are involved in hazardous labor such as alluvial diamond and gold mining. Girls are also sent from their homes in rural areas to do domestic housework in the urban sector to raise money to send home to their families instead of receiving an education.
  6. Instate, the Liberian government-sponsors and participates in programs to eliminate and prevent child labor. For example, Winrock International donated $6.2 million to reduce child labor in the rubber sector. Through this program, 3,700 households were rewarded livelihood services, and 10,126 children were provided with education services.
  7. In July 2018, the Liberian government promised to eliminate child labor in Liberia by 2030. Through the Ministry of Labor, the country has stated that over 12 years they will take measures to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking. With the introduction of this plan, the country began a National Action Plan, demonstrating how they will address child labor and a Hazardous List, addressing which fields are not acceptable places for children.
  8. Only 25 percent of children are registered at childbirth, making their births unknown to the government. The lack of registration and identification documents makes children more susceptible to trafficking. Traffickers are often family members who promise poorer relatives a better life for their children. The children are often forced into street vending, domestic servitude or sex trafficking. In some poorer families, young girls are encouraged to participate in prostitution to supplement the family’s income.
  9. In June 2019, Verité, a nonprofit organization, partnered with Lawyers without Borders and Winrock International, to provide technical assistance to Liberia’s Ministry of Labor to reduce child labor. The CLEAR II project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, aimed to improve the government’s response to labor, increase awareness of child labor and reduce the number of children exploited. The project held training sessions for government employees to improve their understanding of child labor and allow them to train other employees correctly.
  10. In 2019, the Liberian government investigated four traffickers, however, only one was prosecuted. This marks a decrease from the year before when the government investigated four traffickers and convicted all four. In a report, the U.S. Department of State stated that many officials did not consider internal trafficking, such as child domestic servitude, a crime but rather a community practice.

These top 10 facts about child labor in Liberia depict a country that is in need of humanitarian aid and more governmental funding. Child labor continues to be a problem in Liberia. However, the government is actively working to eradicate this problem and allow children the opportunity to get a formal education. Advocating for laws such as the Keeping Girls in School Act gives young girls the chance for a life without domestic servitude.

– Hayley Jellison
Photo: Unsplash

the children of the landfills
Let’s face it, the world produces a lot of waste. In 2016 alone, the world produced approximately 2.01 trillion tons of waste. This is an astronomical number that, by 2050, is expected to increase by 70 percent, according to the World Bank. East Asia and the Pacific region are the world’s largest producers of waste, producing 23 percent or 468 million tons of waste each year. A majority of this waste ends up in landfills. In developing countries, such as those in East Asia and the Pacific region, 90 percent of waste is burned or thrown in unregulated dumps.

This waste disproportionately impacts the poor. In many middle- to low-income cities, nongovernmental companies control waste management and are backed by many of the governments of each country. These companies employ a large percentage of children under the age of 18. Moreover, East Asia and the Pacific region have more working children than anywhere else in the world. The United Nations Environmental Programme states that in cities such as Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the percentage of working children is as high as 51 percent. These children are the children of the landfills.

The Children of the Landfills

These children who work in these toxic waste fills are among the most vulnerable and impoverished in the world. They often have to miss school to work in landfills, contributing to their families’ income. This subsequently contributes to a cycle of poverty, as there is a direct correlation between the amount of education a person receives and their level of poverty. If a child is not given the tools they need to succeed in the modern world, then they are forced to succumb to the depths of poverty as that is all they have ever known.

In many of these countries, the vast majority of landfills are unregulated dumps in which toxic waste is present in alarmingly high amounts. Health symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches, are commonly reported, along with low birth weights and stunted growth in children. These hazardous materials also expose the children who work in these dumps to an increased risk of a variety of cancers including, leukemia, lung cancer and brain cancer.

A Uniquely Dangerous Environment

Sadly, for the children of the landfills, toxic waste is merely one of several hazards they are exposed to on a daily basis. Children must be cautious of where they step due to broken glass and other sharp objects. They also must be wary of water-filled sinkholes hidden by the plastic waste that floats on its surface. If a child were to fall in, they would likely never be found again.

The most dangerous hazard for the children is trash avalanches, caused by workers in bulldozers moving trash as the children collect scraps. The World’s Children Prize tells the story of a 14-year-old girl named Kean who witnessed the dangers of working near the bulldozers. She explains that a young boy was crushed to death by a pile of trash, as the bulldozer operator was oblivious to the child’s presence.

The West and China

East Asia and the Pacific region’s waste problems have recently become exacerbated by China’s decision in 2018 to stop importing most recyclable waste. For 25 years, China was the world’s largest importer of recyclable waste. This sudden shift in the recyclables market prompted the West to redirect it’s waste to countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. These countries have since become overwhelmed with waste, greatly amplifying the plight of the children of the landfills.

The Good News

Fortunately, the United Nations and nonprofits have a plethora of initiatives aimed at fighting poor waste management. In particular, the Gates Foundation works with the governments of East Asian countries to improve sanitation and waste management by implementing more efficient waste management systems.

Organizations, such as the World’s Children Prize, help empower the children of the landfills through education, so they can break free from the cycle of poverty. Similarly, the International Labor Organization fights for the rights of children in these developing countries.

More importantly, the best way ordinary people can help these children is by decreasing individual waste footprints. This can be accomplished in a wide variety of ways. To do so, easy changes can be made, such as using refillable water bottles, declining to use plastic straws and silverware. Bigger changes involve changing one’s diets and methods of transportation. Whether one makes small or big changes, the children of the landfills rely on them to fight for a better future.

Shane Thoma
Photo: Pixabay


10 Facts About Farming in AfricaAfrica is home to 54 countries, with 36 percent of people living on less than one dollar a day. Farming is how a large majority of Africans feed their family and generate revenue. Although the sweeping plains of East and South Africa are abundant in natural resources, there are still high levels of poverty among farmers. These 10 facts about farming in Africa will explain why farmers in Africa fall below the international poverty level.

10 Facts About Farming in Africa

  1. The Sahara Desert is growing. A future threat to farmers is the Sahara, the world’s largest hot desert. While most deserts’ boundaries expand and contract seasonally, data collected over the past 100 years shows that the Sahara grew by at least 11 percent and now takes up 3.6 million square miles of Northern Africa. As the places where people farm grow drier, famine and drought become more of a risk.
  2. Sub-Saharan Africa contains 19 of the 25 poorest countries in the world. This includes the Central African Republic, which is nearly self-sufficient in crops but ranks as the poorest country in Africa (681 GDP) due to poor livestock quality. Overall, this “horn” of the African continent contains a population of 626 million people, and 384 million—or 61 percent—of them are farmers.
  3. Roughly 65 percent of Africa’s population relies on subsistence farming. Subsistence farming, or smallholder agriculture, is when one family grows only enough to feed themselves. Without much left for trade, the surplus is usually stored to last the family until the following harvest. While subsistence farming is appealing to rural farmers because it allows families to be self-sufficient, it is heavily susceptible to climate change and works best when there is no drought or flood, which usually isn’t the case.
  4. Farmers suffer from Africa’s loss of share in world trade. Unfortunately, there are higher trade taxes placed on the continent compared to other regions. This is due to roads that lead toward ports rather than other countries, as well as rigorous tariffs and inspection laws between borders. Working to boost intra-African trade, regional economic communities (RECs) face immense challenges and policymakers are focusing on RECs in order to increase regional integration.
  5. Africa’s common cash crops are cocoa, cotton and coffee. Initially, cocoa was as a smallholder crop but has grown in popularity due to global demand. Robusta is a typical coffee bean grown in Africa, commonly used for instant coffee. It faces competition with the higher quality Arabica beans exported from Asia and South America. Overall, the exposure of cash crops to the world market has expanded growth in Africa but also slowly eroded farmer incomes. Cash crop farmers receive very small proportions of the final traded price.
  6. Women make up the largest share of the agricultural labor force in Africa. Although they produce 80 percent of the continent’s food, they are excluded from determining agricultural policies and certain laws deprive them of their land and livelihood. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that if women were given the same access to productive resources as men, crop yield could be increased 20 to 30 percent—in turn, reducing the number of world hunger up to 17 percent.
  7. Africa has the largest number of child labor, and the agriculture sector accounts for most of it. In sub-Saharan Africa, child labor increased over the 2012 to 2016 period, in contrast to continued progress in the rest of the world. Most child labor is unpaid, going on in family farms and not between employment with a third-party.
  8. Countries with high child labor rates, like Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, also report high school attendance rates at 90 percent. Families that do subsistence farming anecdotally report high career aspirations for their children. The high child labor rates are not necessarily an alternative to school, but an act performed for the necessary family income that leads to subsistence and high attendance rates. In a sense, child work often contributes to improving the family farm that they may eventually inherit.
  9. Focus on agribusiness can help improve the lives of farmers. The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) promotes a focus on the chain of process: land tenure, farming technology, markets and pricing. Agribusiness also involves technology, such as mobile apps used as a means to reach farmers and track data on land conditions. By turning farming into an entrepreneurial endeavor, agribusiness could create the mass number of jobs needed for Africa’s youth.
  10. By increasing local production of chemical fertilizers, the lives of African farmers could improve. Globally, Africa consumes only one percent of fertilizer and produces even less. With high costs and short supply, African farmers pay up to six times the average price for fertilizer. If a farmer is living on one dollar a day, imported fertilizer is unaffordable. Increasing local production of fertilizer would reduce costs and shorten the supply chain to farmers.

Improving the lives of African farmers is possible through education and outside funding. USAID can focus on improving transportation networks for rural areas, as well as expanding the infrastructure of suppliers and markets. Through gender-equalizing laws and lowering tariffs, African farmers can also increase their benefits from their work. These 10 facts about farming in Africa show that African farmers make up a large majority of the world’s poor, and there is much to be done when it comes to improving their future.

– Isadora Savage
Photo: Flickr

8 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research Papers
Today, people are starting to become active participants in the fight against global issues and as a result, progress is being made. However, there are still individuals unaware of pressing issues around them. One way of bringing these people up-to-date would be through the use of essays or research. Here are 10 global issue topics for essays and research papers.

10 Global Issue Topics for Essays and Research

  1. Water Contamination and Shortage: 2.1 billion people in countries undergoing urbanization have inaccessibility to clean drinking water as a result of pollution, poverty and poor management of resources. Water resources are depleted by agriculture and industry energy production. To put into perspective, agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the reduction of water around the world, with 75 percent of a given countries’ water used for this purpose and depleted by contamination. Fortunately, there has been a recent increase in efforts to develop technology to combat contamination and reduce the rate of water depletion.
  2. The Relationship between Education and Child Labor: Despite a surge in funding for some countries and increasing attention through social media, education continues to be a luxury around the globe. Reasons include gender preferences and poverty, and child labor — the use of children in industry. According to UNICEF, 150 million children participate in laborious activities dangerous to their health. As one can imagine, this work hinders a child’s ability to fully invest in education. Therefore it’s most challenging to bring education to sub-Saharan Africa, where the rates of children enrolled in primary education continue to stagger. In addition, fewer students successfully complete secondary education here.
  3. Violence: Violence is a global issue that exists in all shapes and sizes. Violence can be done towards a particular group like women or LGBTQ+ members, or it is an act that can be a result of a mentally disturbed mind. There is also violence in response to economic stress. All these varying forms of violence lead to attention on the safety and prevention of such acts. However, there isn’t much consideration on how an everyday person can help. In discussions about violence, the biggest questions to answer are: How is this violence used? How is it achieved/accessed? Does the media have a role? How much is the foundation for a particular act of violence is personal? What is the overall goal?
  4. Poverty: In 2015, the International Poverty Line was set to $1.90. This number means that a person is living in extreme poverty if they live below this line. According to this set line, more than 1.3 billion people are living in this extreme worldwide. This fact suggests that 1.3 billion people have difficulty obtaining food and shelter, regardless of the availability of homeless shelters and organizations. Current questions or topics to explore in an essay or research would be the cause of variation in wages on the international level, and the nature and initiatives that can be taken to solve this global issue at large.
  5. Inequality: On a global scale, the focus on inequality tends to be in terms of the distribution of wealth. According to a Global Wealth Report, 44 percent of global net worth is held by only 0.7 percent of adults. This suggests that there is a significant division between economic classes around the world. Recently, research has shown the effects that this economic divide has on communities particularly in health, social relationships, development and stability. For example, in a society where there’s a large gap between the rich and the poor, life expectancy tends to be shorter and mental illness and obesity rates are 2 to 4 times higher. In terms of social relationships, inequality on a larger level introduces more violence and crime.
  6. Terrorism: Terrorism like the bombing incidents of the last few years continue to claim the lives of innocents. It is a threat to the peace, security and stability of the world, so terrorism prevention methods have been implemented to illustrate what is wrong and should be/could be done to uphold justice. However, the basis of the threats, mindsets and the successes/failures of response efforts still need to be evaluated.
  7. Child Marriages: Child marriages are defined as the union between one or two individuals under the age of 18. One in five girls are married before the age of 18, and child marriages prevent children from becoming educated, can lead to severe health consequences and increased risk of violence. Legislation and programs were established in order to educate and employ children in these situations as child marriages do not have enough awareness on individual involvement or emphasis on the common causes for these marriages.
  8. Food: Poverty, economic inequality and water contamination mean inability to produce sufficient amounts of food to sustain a population. This can, in turn, lead to poorer health and decreased energy to carry out physical and mental functions, leading to more poverty. By 2050, the world would need to find food for approximately nine billion people as cost of production for food will rise in response to the increased amount of individuals. Thus, the United Nations established programs to ensure food security and technology companies make efforts to reduce food production costs.

The Role of Essays and Research

There has been increasing progress towards solving the global issues; however, for some, this progress is too slow due to lack of understanding of preventative methods, diffusion of responsibility and unanswered questions. These global issue topics for essays and research papers can be used as a starting point to give more insight to others into the issues and how to get involved.

– Stephanie Singh
Photo: Flickr

child labor
The worst forms of child labor by international definition is: the enslavement, sale, trafficking, debt bondage, serfdom or compulsory labor of anyone under the age of eighteen. In the United States, minors are a protected class under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

This act prohibits the oppressive labor of children, and is meant to include anything deemed physically or emotionally damaging, hazardous, or would inhibit the well-being and education of such individuals. Outside of the United States, however, minors are not necessarily granted such special protection and may begin working under hazardous conditions without profit, access to education, ability to escape or hope of a future.

International Labor Organization

The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency founded in 1919, estimates that there were 40.3 million people in modern slavery, a quarter of whom are children; in fact, in 2017, 152 million children were in child labor around the world.

“Alliance 8.7 is a global strategic partnership committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, which calls on the world to ‘take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 to end child labor in all its forms.”

This organization has made tremendous efforts towards attaining its goals to eliminate child labor completely. As evidence of progress, there has been a decrease of 94 million children previously engaged in child labor since the year 2000.

Slavery vs. Child Labor

The distinction between slavery and child labor is important to note, as it distinguishes between what is considered labor and involuntary servitude, which by definition is forced. “Slavery is the holding of people at a workplace through force, fraud, or coercion for purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor so that the slaveholder can extract a profit.”

Of the 40 million slaves today, the majority are female, and the prevalence of slavery is most common in the Asia & Pacific regions, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. As noted above, slavery takes many different forms and about 10 million of the slaves in existence today are children.

Forms and Causes of Slavery

The most typical forms of slavery are: debt bondage, contract slavery, sex trafficking, forced or servile marriage, domestic servitude, worst forms of child labor and child soldiers. The breakdown of industries where slavery takes place is fifty percent through forced labor in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, fishing, mining and other physical labor industries; 12.5 percent sex slavery in forced prostitution; and 37.5 percent forced marriage.

Poverty alone clearly does not cause slavery to occur, however, it is a large determinant of what allows slavery to catalyze in the first place. Slavery arises out of vulnerability and, as with all forms of cruelty and evil, predators prey on the weak.

In addition to poverty, other susceptibilities to one being subjected to involuntary servitude include: a lack of awareness of rights and risks, absent or weak protective organizations, absence of critical services, inadequate legal protection and survivor vulnerability. Human trafficking occurs within approximately twenty-three percent of the people who make up the slave population.

A Network of Support

The creation of stronger support systems is one key action item to putting an end to slavery. This is termed capacity building, and includes improved training, technical training and assistance to already existing organizations. Support systems aid in identifying those at risk to poverty and child slavery, preventing slavery from occurring and helping those in the aftermath to thrive under post-traumatic conditions.

As with all other inhumane acts, raising awareness is a crucial component to the creation of a world without child slaves.

Child Labor

While slavery is an obvious unspeakable injustice that strips the innocence of nearly 10 million children, the other 152 million children who are child laborers equates to one in ten children across the globe.  The child labor statistics mentioned are primarily related to work in agriculture, with a smaller amount who work in the service or industry sector.

By continents it is estimated that 72.1 million child laborers exist in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific at 62 million, the Americas at 10.7 million, Europe and Central Asia at 5.5 million and the Arab States at 1.2 million. Thirty-eight percent of children in hazardous work conditions were between the ages of 5 to 14 when this data was collected.

A Child-Slave-Free World

One way to commit to the creation of a slave-free world and end child labor is to be a responsible consumer. Simply buying products from reputable companies who use ethical practices to produce their goods is a step in the right direction towards positive change. For business owners or those in corporate professions, aids businesses in how to make ethically sound choices with respect to labor practices.

Demonstrating support for legislation crafted to prohibit child labor and the creation of stricter deterrents to using slave labor is a means to a solution. Finally, preventative measures can be taken by raising awareness, and increasing availability of education so that all people around the world know their rights. It would also help if funding is allocated to organizations that work to create positive change through both prevention and assistance.

Also, Free the Slaves contains additional information on what can be done to fight slavery and make ethically sound purchases.

– Bridget Rice
Photo: Flickr

Bolivia’s working age is the lowest in the world. At 10 years old, children can legally work for themselves, their families and for others. Better education and a change in cultural attitude is the only way to provide aid for children working in Bolivia.

Bolivia’s Child and Adolescent Code was passed in 2014. It lowered the legal working age to 10 in an effort to prevent the exploitation of many children already working in Bolivia. But with 850,000 child laborers in Bolivia and only 78 inspectors, it is difficult to enforce regulations. Many children work illegally starting at the age of five.

Bolivian lawmakers wanted to set the minimum working age at 14, which led to riots as shoe shiners, bricklayers, street vendors and other child workers clashed with police in 2013.

The law passed with support from Bolivian President Evo Morales, who said that working children develop “social awareness.” President Morales worked with his father at age six, herding llamas.

Aid for children working in Bolivia cannot come from regulations alone, as they are too lax and purport a vicious cycle of poverty. Working from a young age threatens their health, exposes them to violence and reinforces integral cycles of poverty. As it stands, 60 percent of children working in Bolivia drop out of school in order to continue working.

Four years after the law passed, many fear that the law is failing to protect Bolivia’s working children. Children and their families must get approval from the government to work; however, only about 30 percent of applications are dealt with. Many ignore the law and put children to work unsupervised.

Bolivia has 8.3 million citizens and 59 percent of the population lives in poverty. Culture and need both contribute to child labor. It is seen as normal in Andean culture for children to help support the family. Therefore, aid for children working in Bolivia must extend from a change in social values and political priorities.

Child labor deprives children of their right to go to school, but Bolivian children need money to buy books. They also need to feed their younger siblings and help their family pay the bills. Poverty levels have decreased in Bolivia over the last few years, but children still play a key role in keeping many families afloat.

Aid for children working in Bolivia comes only in the form of regulations and unions that aim to prevent the exploitation of workers. The Union of Child and Adolescent Workers of Bolivia is an organization of young workers that have united to defend themselves from exploitation. They supported Bolivia’s Child and Adolescent Code and do not want the cessation of child labor in Bolivia, but the improvement of its regulation. By fighting for better protection for child workers, groups like this can ensure fair treatment of children in the short term while working to change the cultural norms in the long term.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Right to a ChildhoodIn the last two decades, international organizations and nonprofits have turned their attention toward the right to a childhood. Children are vulnerable not only due to their age but also due to their lack of resources, low education and inability to effectively communicate. This combination has left children susceptible to child labor, child marriage and sex trafficking, forcing them to grow up quickly without a childhood. More must be done to harmonize regional, international and local laws to clearly define the age of a child in order to prevent confusion and children slipping through the system in order to allow every child the right to a childhood.

Prioritizing children’s right to childhood in Malawi has a significant meaning for many young women combatting forced marriage. Child marriage, with parents’ consent, is common in Malawi for children between 15 and 18 years old. In 2015, Malawi amended its marriage law to increase the minimum age to 18. The constitution allows marriage at 15 years with parental consent.

Malawi’s Protection and Justice Act defines an adult at 16 years of age. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child define an adult at 18 years. Harmonizing these laws would reduce confusion and decrease forced marriage by increasing the age of eligibility to marry. If this harmonizing of laws and redefining of age proves successful, this could be an example used for other countries combatting childhood labor, child soldiers and early childhood marriage, increasing availability of the right to a childhood.

The protection of a child’s innocence, as well as their right to a childhood, should start much earlier than marriage. Right to Play was founded in 2000 by four Olympic gold medalists and an entrepreneur. The nonprofit focuses on protecting a child’s critical years. “While food, water and shelter are essential, so is a childhood, complete with education and opportunities to actively engage with other children,” its website states. The organization teaches children life skills, which will help them overcome inevitable conflict and disease as they grow up.

Games engage children to participate in the programs, while the “Reflect-Connect-Apply” approach forces the children to examine their life experiences. Then they relate those experiences to their education. They finally apply this technique to their daily lives. “Reflect-Connect-Apply” focuses on creating positive, sustainable change in three areas: education, health and living in peace.

In some parts of the world today, children are not able to experience the benefits of a right to a childhood. Organizations and NGOs working on the ground level of local villages are teaching communities the value of play combined with an international movement to harmonize laws and clearly define an age for a child could help. Protecting the right to a childhood is good for the immediate community and generations to come.

Danielle Preskitt

Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Pakistan
Child labor in Pakistan? For many years, Pakistan’s reputation has been notorious as one of the worst child labor offenders. In recent years, child labor prevention efforts have been heightened. Beginning in 2017, a province in Pakistan passed a new law banning child labor. Could this province be a guide for the rest of the nation? Here are the three things you need to know about child labor in Pakistan and how lawmakers are putting an end to this problem.

More than 12.5 million children are involved in child labor in Pakistan. According to Reuters, “Pakistan’s Labour Force Survey, 2014-15 showed that of those children aged between 10 and 14 years active in child labor, 61 percent were boys and 88 percent came from rural areas.”

In Pakistan, 38.8 percent of the population is living in poverty, with one in four individuals living in acute poverty. For many citizens in Pakistan, it is hard to find a job or to secure one paying enough to provide for a family. Students from impoverished backgrounds who are unable to enter school are most likely to become affected by child labor in Pakistan.

Many child workers are often abused where they work, suffering beatings or torture. Many children are sent to live with middle class and elite class families to perform as domestic servants. Jobs like these become particularly dangerous for children, as they are at the risk of physical and sexual abuse without real supervision.

There are a few programs funded by the government to tackle child labor in Pakistan. For instance, the Children Support Program gives parents money so that they can send their children to school instead of encouraging them to join the work force. This program is available to parents of children ages five to 16. So far, the government has distributed $3 million to families.

In 2016, Pakistan was criticized for not conducting any surveys focusing on the child labor of the past 20 years. This allowed for about 25 million children, who are not attending school, slip under the radar.

On Jan. 26, 2017, the province of Sindh made child labor illegal under The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill, banning children under the age of 14 from working. The law also prohibits adolescents from working between the hours of 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. and for those adolescents who are working, they cannot work more than three hours a day.

Sindh is known as the most impoverished province in Pakistan. As reported by, “In Sindh, 43.1 percent [of the] population is extremely poor due to lack of education, health facilities and poor living standards.” The new law states that offenders of the child labor law will be imprisoned for six months and fined 50,000 rupees. Meanwhile, offenders who are found with child workers in dangerous workplaces (such as stone crushing and carpet weaving) will be sentenced to three years of imprisonment with an increased fine of 100,000 rupees.

Since the province of Sindh is beginning to tackle the issue of child labor in Pakistan, in the future, the rest of the Pakistani work force could follow its example and eliminate all labor misconducts.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Guyana
The third smallest South American country came into independence in 1966 after more than 340 years of colonial control by the Dutch, British and French. Slavery and indentured servitude brought immigrants from several continents, giving Guyana one of the most ethnically diverse populations globally. Many ethnic origins are international, and many people choose to leave and live in other countries. Guyana has one of the worst net migration rates in the world as more than 55 percent migrate to find work.


Sixty percent of the country’s gross domestic product is represented by six exports: sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice. Guyana was once a powerful producer of sugar, yet its production sunk to an all time low in 2014. More recent crop production numbers have shown an improvement. A 2015 submission to the Guyana Sugar Corporation Commission of Inquiry reported reaching 94 percent of productivity goals in the first half of that year.

With somewhat recent estimates stating that 35 percent of the population lives in poverty, Guyana is one of the world’s poorest nations. (2012 Gross National Income (GNI) per capita: $3,410-USD, 2011: $2,900-USD)


Less than 3.5 percent of Guyana’s GDP goes toward education expenditures. Less than 90 percent of people age 15 and over have attended school, and the average school-life expectancy is 10 years.

In its population, 27 percent of which are children under the age of 15,  just 281,000 people use the internet. More than a quarter of the population are without cellular telephones. Of those 199,607 0-14-year-olds, 16 percent are child laborers.


There were 100 HIV/AIDS-related deaths in 2015. With a population of less than 800,000, that number is staggering. In that year there were nearly 8,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in Guyana.

The cause for low numbers of doctors and hospital beds is very low health expenditures. The country has a low life expectancy, 165th in the world at 68.4 percent. This is likely due to the populations’ increased exposure to major infectious diseases like hepatitis A and malaria.

Water supplies are endangered by sewage, chemicals, and well water pollution by salt water from the sea.


According to the CIA world factbook, the government remains maligned in sizable debt servitude despite the Inter-American Development Bank canceling more than $450 million of their debt a decade ago. While that brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183 percent in 2006 to 67 percent in 2015, the country sorely needs investments in infrastructure and an influx of skilled workers.

Coordinating with international health organizations to develop research facilities would develop a premier health care network.

Currently, the nation’s largest university focuses mainly on agricultural sciences. While the Pan-American Health Organization maintains an office in the country, working to expand upon that network would prove beneficial.

Developing a health care network on the northern-most coast of South America would aid in fighting infectious disease in Guyana. This creates a need to improve its poor infrastructure and bring skilled medical professionals back into the country.

The focus on improving health conditions in Guyana is the first step toward a stronger economy. Improving health conditions is done by investing more resources, educating physicians and keeping those doctors from emigrating by buying more hospital beds. The possibility of creating an infrastructure around medical research facilities could benefit the region, keep and draw skilled health professionals in and to Guyana.

Shaun Savarese

Photo: Flickr

Syrian Refugees
The Syrian war that began six years ago is still wreaking havoc on millions of lives. What started as civil unrest instigated by the arrest of schoolboys in 2011, has turned into a multifaceted crisis characterized by anarchic violence. About 470,000 Syrians have died while 14.9 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance with the largest internally displaced population of 6.5 million, 2.8 million of which are children. Additionally, millions have fled Syria to find safe refuge from the depredations of multiple wars. For many, the fight to survive still continues. Here are ten facts about Syrian refugees.

  1. Long, strenuous hikes through deserts, facing dangers such as being targeted by snipers or arrested at the borders, is what refugees endure to enter neighboring countries. About 4.9 million refugees have migrated to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and some North African countries.
  2. Turkey has the largest population of Syrian refugees in one country at 2.81 million. About 80 percent of the refugees living in Southeast Turkey are deprived of all humanitarian aid due to the ongoing conflict. Lack of job opportunities further exacerbates their crisis, compelling many to move to Europe. The year 2015 saw a mass exodus of 800,000 refugees from Turkey to Greece.
  3. Child labor is another horror of this crisis affecting children in both camps and cities. Kids are less likely to be impugned if caught engaging in illegal work and therefore resort to menial jobs to sustain their families’ basic needs. The average age of working children is 14, but even 5-year-olds have been found engaged in jobs such as collecting trash, working in restaurants, cleaning, loading goods, metalwork and carpentry.
  4. In spite of enhanced access to food, shelter and education, only 10 percent of the refugees live in camps. While some are unable to enter due to overcrowding, the majority leave at great risks in search of independence and normalcy. They are tired of living on handouts and want to provide for their kids. Preservation of their dignity is the foremost reason many Syrian refugees forego the relative security of camps.
  5. Expended savings and lack of work have resulted in a significant number living below the poverty line with 93 percent in Jordan, 70 percent in Lebanon and 65 percent in Egypt. The high costs of work permits ranging from $170 to $1,270 and the lack of experience force refugees to work in low paying seasonal jobs. Lack of registration also prevents refugees from being able to work legally.

  1. The main priorities for refugees in urban communities include rent, food and health. Most live in inadequate dwellings, some without electricity or plumbing, and they often share accommodations with other families. Rents account for about two-thirds of their expenses leaving them shorthanded for basic needs like food and healthcare. Government policy allows food distribution for only camp residents. Refugees in urban communities tend to go unnoticed and suffer from the perception that they are less vulnerable.
  2. The strain on the economy, infrastructure and social services in host countries have led to resentment against the refugees. A large influx into cities has resulted in inflation of rents, overcrowding of schools and lower wages. Jordan imposed stricter restrictions on entry in 2014 while Turkey is building a border wall. About 176 refugees, including 31 children, were killed by the Turkish border guards in 2016. About 80,000 refugees are forsaken at the borders in crude settlements without toilets, electricity or clean water and 1,000 refugees return to Syria from Jordan weekly. In addition to frequent raids, Lebanese law since 2015 requires refugees to pay $200 annually for a residence permit along with proof of sponsorship.
  3. Displacement has also drastically hindered education, the only means to safeguarding these children’s futures against the traumatic experiences of this crisis. About 700,000 Syrian children in neighboring countries are out of school. In spite of efforts by host countries, a large percentage are deprived of education. In Lebanon, approximately 250,000 are out of school. Only three percent of the 82,744 registered refugees aged 15-18 attended school in 2015. In Jordan, over 80,000 refugee children did not have access to education in 2015.
  4. While a majority of refugees are in neighboring countries, about one million have requested asylum in Europe including 300,000 in Germany and 100,000 in Sweden. Canada is leading in North America with 40,081 Syrian refugees as of January 2017. President Obama welcomed more than 10,000 Syrian refugees during his tenure.
  5. Refugees desperate for the European shores embark on what they refer to as the“journey of death.” Many make multiple attempts overcoming unimaginable hazards at the middle eastern shores before facing the dangers of the sea. Although the number dropped significantly after the EU-Turkey deal, about 80,000 refugees arrived in Greece between January and October 2016 and the riskier route from Libya to Italy was crossed by more than 115,000. About 4,176 lives were lost resulting in an average of 11 men, women and children dying daily for a year.

Refugees are willing to risk their lives to live freely without fear. When asked why they would subject themselves to such life-threatening risks, their responses resonate with hope in the face of death. Syrian refugees are on the precipice of desperation, trying to stay optimistic. They make these perilous journeys across the globe in search of a future for themselves and their children. There are no alternative motives.

Preeti Yadav

Photo: Flickr