Recently, as a part of the study, a questionnaire was circulated among the privileged individuals (particularly adults), which included if they knew about the industries where child labour was the most common affair. It was then realised that most of them had an ambiguous perception regarding this. Being a volunteer of such an organisation that spreads awareness against child labour and works extensively to erase it globally, I considered this as a duty to enlighten everyone as much as possible so that achieving our aim becomes easier. This is because every child has the right to enjoy their childhood; free from all responsibilities and bondages.
Millions of children around the world are trapped in child labour, depriving them of their childhood, good health and education, and compelling them to live a life of poverty and want. Of course, there are works that children do to help their families in ways neither harmful nor exploitative. But many of them are stuck in unacceptable and barbaric work conditions- a serious violation of their rights.
The recent global estimates (2017) based on data of UNICEF, the ILO and the World Bank indicated that 168 million children aged 15-17 are engaged in child labour. The majority of them suffer in the other worst forms of child labour, including slavery and slavery-like practices such as forced and bonded-labour and child soldiering, sexual exploitation, or are used by adults in illicit activities, including drug and sex-trafficking.
So, in this article, we will look at the top 7 industries which actually DEPEND on child labour (Yes, depend!). These are globally declared the most unsuitable and terrifying areas where child labour is practiced extensively:
1. Coffee Plantations: As declared by the ILO, that agriculture is where the worst and most common forms of child labour are found; the coffee plantations employ children to pick beans in Columbia, Tanzania, Kenya, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
2. Cotton Plantations: Cotton-picking is done by children all over the world, but particularly in countries whose economies rely on its harvest- like in Ivory Coast, where it provides a livelihood for 3 million people. It is also a major problem in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, where children are sometimes forced to work in the cotton sector.
3. Brick Kilns: The US Department of Labour lists 15 countries using child labour to produce bricks for construction projects. These include Argentina, Brazil, China, Ecuador, North Korea and Peru.
4. Garment Industry: Probably the most infamous industry due to its oppressive sweatshop conditions in Cambodia and Bangladesh, the garment industry employs children all around the world. Even the Syrian refugees, including children, are seen producing shoes in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey.
5. Sugarcane Plantations: Sugarcane harvesting is carried out by children in countries such as Guatemala, the Philippines and Cambodia, amongst others. ILO has found thousands of children working in sugarcane production in the Philippines, some as young as 7 years old.
6. Tobacco: The ILO says that the tobacco industry is one of the most hazardous for child workers due to long hours, extreme heat, exposure to dangerous chemicals, having to carry heavy loads and risk of attack from animals. The average child worker in the tobacco industry works around 10 hours a day.
7. Gold Mines: Child labour in mines, particularly gold mines is most common in parts of Africa, Asia and South America. Children either risk death from explosions in mine shafts or must stand for hours in riverbeds sifting for small nuggets of gold. Due to unclean water, the children working in the gold industry are always at a high risk of contracting dysentery, malaria, meningitis and tuberculosis.
In 2015, India had become home to a large number of children who were working illegally in various industrial set-ups. Agriculture in India is the largest sector where many children work at an early age to help support their families. Many of them were forced to work at such young ages due to unemployment, lack of parental education, large family and poverty. This is often the major cause of the high rate of child labour in India.
Although there has been a steady decline in child labour, the progress has been far too slow. Its continuing persistence poses a threat to national economies and has severe negative short and long term consequences for the fulfilment of children’s rights, including denial of education and frequent exposure to violence.
Child labour can definitely be prevented through integrated approaches that strengthen child protection systems as well as simultaneously poverty and inequity, improve access to and quality of education and mobilise public support for respecting children’s rights. Because Children belong in schools and not workplaces.