CHAPTER II: A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
This chapter considers evidence from a number of countries where children are reported to work under particularly hazardous conditions. Examples are intended to demonstrate the scope of the global child labor problem, with emphasis placed on the worst forms of child labor as identified under International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182. These forms include: forced labor by children; trafficking of children for exploitative labor; forcible recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts; exploitation of children in the commercial sex industry; the use of children for illicit activities such as the trafficking of drugs; and the involvement of children in other hazardous labor that places at risk the health, safety, and morals of children.
Under ILO Convention No. 182, ratifying countries are called upon to address such forms of child labor as a matter of urgency. This chapter notes the commitment that many governments are making to eliminate child labor, particularly its worst forms. However, while the global campaign to end child labor has gained considerable momentum over the past decade, some governments still lack the kinds of policies and initiatives needed to protect children from being exploited in the workplace and from suffering the worst forms of child labor.
Children work in many countries under forced labor conditions. In some cases, children work to pay off the debts of their parents. In other cases, bonded labor may involve an entire family and be passed on from one generation to the next. Children involved in forced labor lack basic freedoms, frequently work for long hours for little or no compensation, and are generally deprived of the opportunity to attend school.
Globally, estimates suggests that between 700,000 and one million persons, women and children in particular, are trafficked every year for exploitative labor, and in many cases, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
In many areas of conflict around the world, children are involved in armed struggles in which they are forced to serve as soldiers, scouts, messengers, and concubines. The issue of child soldiers has captured increasing international attention, as demonstrated by the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in May 2000. Around the world, an estimated 300,000 children under the age of 18, both boys and girls, are involved in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries. According to some estimates, nearly half of these children are in Africa.
Children involved in commercial sexual exploitation face abuse and degradation. They risk early pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and exposure to HIV-AIDS. Prostitution of children is often prevalent in urban centers, in tourist areas, and along major transportation routes.
In some cases, children migrate to such areas in search of work, while in other instances, children are trafficked and sold into the commercial sex sector.
Children in some countries are lured or forced to work in illicit activities such as the trafficking of illegal drugs or the smuggling of goods across national borders. These children are exposed to crime networks, violence, and the risk of incarceration.
In addition to the worst forms of child labor described above, ILO Convention No. 182 provides for a broader category of labor that includes any work that threatens children’s physical, intellectual, and moral development. While many activities could be considered to fall under this heading, the following examples describe children involved in inherently dangerous work activities.
Children who work in mining and quarrying activities are frequently engaged in hazardous labor. They often work without protective gear and risk illness and serious injury on a daily basis.
As the above examples illustrate, children work under hazardous conditions and suffer the worst forms of child labor in countries around the world. While the scope of the problem is great, many governments are supporting initiatives to eliminate child labor. The next section considers several types of action that reflect the commitment of governments to end child labor.
Support for initiatives to combat the exploitation of children has grown significantly in the past decade. To eliminate child labor, governments have developed national plans of action and taken steps to promote the collection of child labor data, passed child labor laws, increased access for children to schooling, and implemented targeted interventions to remove children from exploitative work.
Since the initiation in 1992 of ILO-IPEC, 51 countries have signed memorandum of understandings with the ILO and become members of the IPEC program. ( See Table 1.1) The active participation of a country in IPEC includes taking steps to increase national capacity and raise awareness as part of their participation in the ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor. It also involves the establishment of a national steering committee on child labor charged with developing a national plan of action for the progressive elimination of child labor in the country.
Enhancing the capacity of local actors, such as NGOs and government, employer and worker organizations, to address child labor is essential for ensuring the sustainability of local efforts to eliminate child labor. Capacity may be built through many means, including training of labor inspectors, involvement of local actors in child labor coordinating committees, the direct involvement of local organizations in the implementation of targeted strategies, and the empowerment of local communities.
Many countries have also taken steps to collect and assess data on child labor. Such efforts not only enhance understanding of the problem, but can contribute to the development of more effective and efficient interventions at the country level. Launched in January 1998, the ILO’s Statistical Information and Monitoring Program on Child Labor (SIMPOC)120 aims to generate comprehensive quantitative and qualitative data on child labor. The following table indicates provides a list of countries that have worked with the ILO in collecting household-level data on child labor, or are planning to work with the ILO to collect such data in the future. ( See Table 1.2)
Other initiatives such as the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS),121 and UNICEF’s Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)122 also provide important sources of data related to child labor. In addition, an interagency effort involving the participation of the ILO, UNICEF, and the World Bank aims to enhance collection and analysis of child labor data while seeking to avoid duplication of effort amongst these three agencies. The project, “Understanding Children’s Work,” also seeks to identify gaps in existing data and propose ways to fill such gaps.123
The passage of child labor laws represents another important step toward combating the problem. Laws may prescribe at what age and under what conditions children may work or proscribe children’s involvement in certain types of work altogether. ILO Convention No. 182 calls upon ratifying countries to establish that some forms of work are not appropriate for any children, under any circumstances.124 It is also important that child labor laws and basic education requirements be complementary.125 Minimum work age laws and education requirements that complement each other become mutually reinforcing. By contrast, when labor and education laws conflict or leave gaps between the age when a child completes schooling and can legally begin work, then such laws may make child labor more likely. Regardless of how well conceived child labor laws are, however, to have an impact, they must be properly implemented and enforced. This remains a challenge in many countries since enforcement requires political will and the commitment of often scarce financial and personnel resources.
A comprehensive, national child labor strategy must also consider how to improve access for all children to quality schooling. Efforts to make basic education universal, free, and of high quality provide children with a viable and valuable alternative to child labor. When children attend school full time, they are also less likely to be engaged in child labor. As this suggests, efforts to reduce child labor and promote schooling for children can be both complimentary and mutually reinforcing. Moreover, education represents an investment in a child’s future and in a country’s future work force. In this way, efforts to promote access to schooling for children can support a country’s broader economic development and poverty alleviation goals.
The passage and enforcement of child labor laws and the promotion of schooling for children are key strategies for reducing child labor. Eliminating child labor, however, may also require more targeted and urgent action. This is especially true in the case of children who are working in particularly dangerous circumstances, as in the case of children engaged in the worst forms of child labor. Many of the following ILO-IPEC programs supported by the U.S. Department of Labor specifically target hazardous forms of child labor, including the worst forms of child labor as identified in ILO Convention No. 182:
Colombia , Bolivia , Ecuador , and Peru ;
Cote d’Ivoire , Mali , Nigeria , and Togo .
Removing children from exploitative work, however, is only one part of addressing the problem of child labor. Steps also need to be taken to ensure that children removed from one form of work do not merely enter another, possibly worse, form of child labor. Programs need to provide children with better alternatives once they leave child labor situations. Reducing a household’s dependence on income earned through the labor of children is another critical step toward reducing the incidence of child labor. A number of the initiatives highlighted in the next chapter involve providing families of former working children with income generating opportunities. Others involve increasing the availability of credit facilities for poorer households.
Another indication of a country’s commitment to ending child labor is the ratification and implementation of international standards, such as the ILO’s two core conventions on child labor—ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age for Employment Ratification. These two conventions have already been ratified by over 65 percent of the ILO’s 175 member countries.
ILO Convention No. 182 calls on countries to take steps to eliminate the worst forms of child labor as a matter of urgency. Three countries have already taken steps in this direction. In 2001, the governments of El Salvador, Nepal and Tanzania officially launched comprehensive, national programs aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labor in a set time frame. These “Time-Bound Programs” also seek to integrate strategies for child labor elimination into broader national policies on development, education and poverty alleviation.
As the examples in this chapter suggest, child labor is a problem that touches countries around the world. The next chapter of this report takes a closer look at the child labor situation in 33 countries. These are countries where child labor has been identified as a serious problem, but in many cases, they are also examples of countries where innovative initiatives are being undertaken to address the problem. The 33 countries in the following chapter were not chosen because they are the worst offenders. Rather, these are countries for which sufficient information was available to present a detailed picture of the many forms child labor can take and the variety of strategy that can be utilized to address the problem.
45 In November 2001, the governing body of the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported the continued incidence of bonded labor by children in Burma. See “Developments Concerning the Question of the Observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29),” Report of the High-Level Team (HLT) (Geneva: International Labor Office (ILO), November 2001); see also Forced Labour in Myanmar (Burma) , report of the Commission of Inquiry appointed under Article 26 of the Constitution of the International Labor Organization to examine the observance by Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) (Geneva: ILO, July 2, 1998); Report on Labor Practices in Burma (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, September 1998), Chapter 4; and 2000 Report on Labor Practices in Burma (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, February 2000), 55-60.
47 Ibid. at 38; see also Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, July 2001) [hereinafter Trafficking in Persons Report ], 35.
48 Sudarsan Raghavan and Sumana Chatterjee, “A Taste of Slavery,” Knight Ridder, June 24, 2001. For the full text of this series of articles, see http://web.krwashington.com/content/krwashington/2001/06/24/washington/Slavery- MainIndex.htm. In response to these reports, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and the World Cocoa Foundation signed a protocol in October 2001 by which they committed themselves to work with the ILO, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other major stakeholders on “a joint action program of research, information exchange, and action to enforce internationally recognized and mutually-agreed upon standards to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the growing and processing of cocoa beans and their derivative products.” See “Protocol for the Growing and Processing of Cocoa Beans and Their Derivative Products in a Manner that Complies with ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor,” Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Vienna, Virginia, October 1, 2001.
50 By the Sweat and Toil of Children: The Use of Child Labor in U.S. Agricultural Imports and Forced and Bonded Child Labor , vol. 2, 85-94 [hereinafter By the Sweat and Toil of Children, vol. 2]; By the Sweat and Toil of Children: Consumer Labels and Child Labor, vol. 4, at 19-22.
51 By the Sweat and Toil of Children, vol. 2, at 125-32. Bonded labor in the farm sector occurs when landless peasants and tenant farmers must turn to landlords for loans in the form of cash or food, to be repaid with labor. Instead of decreasing with the time worked, however, the loans often increase, and bondage becomes a way of life for generations.
52 Isabel Austin, UNICEF state representative for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, interview with U.S. Department of Labor official, May 5, 1998 [hereinafter Austin interview]. A 1996 Human Rights Watch report found bonded child labor in the agricultural and silk industries as well as in the production of bidis, carpets, silver, synthetic gemstones and leather products; see The Small Hands of Slavery: Bonded Child Labor in India (Human Rights Watch, September 1996), available at www.hrw.org/hrw/reports/1996/India3.htm. See also Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000 ].
53 Kevin Bales, Disposable People (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), Chapter 3; BBC News Online, “World: Africa Award for Mauritanian Anti-Slavery Activist,” available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_216000/216539.stm; Douglas Farah, “Despite Legal Ban, Slavery Persists in Mauritania,” Washington Post, October 21, 2001 [hereinafter “Slavery Persists in Mauritania”]; “Slavery Lives on in Mauritania: Tradition Thrives Thanks to a Confluence of Cultures,” National Public Radio, August 21, 2001, available at www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010828.mauritania.html, as cited on December 4, 2001; Kendall Wilson, “Slavery Thrives in African Nation,” Philadelphia Tribune , June 25, 1999, 1A; “Mauritania: Paradise under the Master’s Foot: An 800-Year-Old System of Black Chattel Slavery Thrives in Mauritania”; Country Reports 2000—Mauritania ; “Slavery Persists in Mauritania.”
56 ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, 89 th Session 2001 (Geneva: ILO, 2001), 566-67. For comments in response to the Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations , see Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UAE worker and employer members, International Labour Conference Provisional Record, Eighty-ninth Session , No. 19, Part 2 (Geneva: ILO, 2001), 83-84.
61 Bulgaria is both a source and a transit country for human trafficking. Approximately 10,000 Bulgarian women, many under the age of 18, may be involved in international operations, but no official statistics are available. See IOM Counter Trafficking Strategy for the Balkans and Neighboring Countries, International Organization for Migration, January 2001, available at http://www.iom.int/PDF_Files/Balkan_strategy.pdf, as cited on September 28, 2001. See also Country Reports 2000—Bulgaria .
66 Hannah Beech Farkhar, “The Child Soldiers: War and Revenge Is All the Young Recruits of the Northern Alliance and Taliban Know,” Time [online], November 16, 2001, available at www.time.com/time/world/article/ 0,8599,182805,00.html.
67 The use of child soldiers is a significant and ongoing problem in Angola. In March 1996, the U.N.’s Department of Humanitarian Affairs surveyed 17,000 demobilized soldiers in just 4 of 15 demobilization centers and found that more than 1,500 were under 18 years of age. Sources for the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers report that 3,000 children are active in the Angolan armed forces, and another 3,000 are active with UNITA, despite efforts to demobilize 8,500 children following the 1994 peace agreement. The U.S. Department of State reports that children as young as 10 are recruited or forcibly conscripted by UNITA. See Country Reports 2000—Angola . See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Angola Country Report, available at www.child-soldiers.org/embargo/ donotpublish/globalreport.html#.
69 Summary Record of the 666 th Meeting: Comoros, U.N. Document No. CDC/C/SR.666 (Geneva: United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, October 4, 2000), para. 41. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Africa Report: Comoros (London: Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, March 1999).
70 Christian Aid, Oxfam GB, and Save the Children U.K., “No End in Sight: The Human Tragedy of the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: August 2001,” June 8, 2001, available at www.oxfam.org.uk/policy/papers/ drc2.htm, as cited on October 26, 2001.
71 Country Reports 2000—Democratic Republic of the Congo . The U.N. Committee on Rights of the Child notes that “in some cases, the age of a child was falsified and children as young as 13 were recruited as soldiers.” See United Nations, Committee on Rights of the Child, Committee on Rights of the Child Starts Consideration of Report of Democratic Republic of the Congo , 27th session, May 28, 2001, available at www.unhchr.ch/huricane/ huricane.nsf/view01/D33F9C5FC1976910C1256A5B0057D64A?opendocument.
74 Sierra Leone: The Terrible Price of Poverty and Unemployment , International Labor Organization, World of Work, No. 33, February 2000 (www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/inf/magazine/33/sleone.htm). October 17, 2001. Human rights groups estimate that 4,500-10,000 children under 16 years of age were forcibly abducted into military service during the war. Douglas Farah, “Children Forced to Kill,” Washington Post , April 10, 2000.
75 Child Soldiers Global Report, Republic of Sierra Leone, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2000); Douglas Farah, “Rebels in Sierra Leone Mine Diamonds in Defiance of U.N. Captured Children and Conscripts Used as Laborers,” Washington Post , August 19, 2001, A01.
76 “Brutal Child Army Grows Up,” BBC News Online , see (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/ newsid_ 743000/743684.stm). Around the world, an estimated 300,000 children under the age of 18, both boys and girls, are involved in armed conflicts in more than 30 countries, nearly half of which are believed to be with militaries or armed opposition groups in Africa. For information on global figures on the incidence of child soldiers, see “Child Soldiers Global Report 2001,” The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (www.child-soldiers.org/). See also : Douglas Farah, “Children Forced to Kill,” Washington Post , April 10, 2000.
77 UNICEF Press Release, UNICEF Encouraged By the Releasee Today of 150 Child Soldiers in Sieraa Leone, Freetown/New York, 4 th June 2001. (www.unicef.org/newsline/01prjune4cs/htm) October 17, 2001 (3:47PM).
78 Situation of Human Rights in Somalia: Report of the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Mona Rishmawi, Submitted in Accordance with Commission of Human Rights Resolution 1999/75 , U.N. Document No. E/CN.4/2000/110 (Geneva: United Nations Economic and Social Council, January 2000) 17. See also Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, 2001).
79 Global Report on Child Soldiers—Sri Lanka (www.child-soldiers.org/report2001/ countries/sri_lanka.html). See Also Sri Lanka: Recent Reports on Child Labor Problems Which Violate ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. [E-mail Correspondence (need date), Sonia Rosen, Solidarity Center]. U.S. Embassy-Colombo, unclassified telegram no. 001719, September 26, 2001.
82 The rebels are associated with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). See Tom Barton, Alfred Mutiti and the Assessment Team for Psycho-social Programmes in Northern Uganda, Northern Uganda Psycho-Social Needs Assessment (Kisubi, Uganda: Marianum Press, 1998) vii-viii.
83 Tom Barton, Alfred Mutiti and the Assessment Team for Psycho-social Programmes in Northern Uganda, Northern Uganda Psycho-Social Needs Assessment (Kisubi, Uganda: Marianum Press, 1998) vii-viii. See also “Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor, 2001).
86 Report on the Problem of Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Cambodia (Phnom Penh: Commission on Human Rights and Reception of Complaints of the National Assembly, May 1997), 2, 6. The commission noted that this was a minimum estimate, as it did not cover all districts or include commercial sex workers employed in other venues such as massage parlors and karaoke bars.
88 World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation, August 1996, and Mainstreaming Gender in IPEC Activities 1999, as cited in “Worst Forms of Child Labor Data: Dominican Republic,” The Global March Against Child Labor (www.globalmarch.org/worstformofchild labour/dominican-republic.html). Another source cites a figure of 25,000 boys, girls, and adolescents working in the country’s commercial sex sector. See Mercedes González, “La explotación sexual y laboral de niños,” El Siglo, August 20, 2000.
90 According to a 1998 study on child prostitution conducted by the Commission on the Family, the Woman, and the Child by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, among the major factors contributing to children engaging in prostitution are poverty, a lack of a strong nuclear family, discrimination against women, and organized crime; see Country Reports 1999—El Salvador at Section 5.
92 ILO-IPEC, Time-Bound Pamphlet on Nepal, 2001. Of those girls who are rescued or are able to return to their villages from India, a sample study found that 37 percent were infected with HIV. ILO-IPEC, Nepal Implementation Report , 1998-1999, Section 1.2.3.
93 Mohammad Farid, “Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation, and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,” in Irwanto, Mohammad Farid, and Jeffry Anwar, Situational Analysis of Children in Need of Special Protection in Indonesia (Jakarta: CSDS Atma Jaya, Department of Social Affairs, and UNICEF, 1998), 96-97.
96 Estimates of children working in prostitution vary greatly. Herve Berger and Hans van de Glind, Children in Prostitution, Pornography and Illicit Activities : Thailand (Bangkok: ILO-IPEC, August 1999) 7.
100 Craig Smith, “Chinese Premier Apologizes for Schoolhouse Explosion,” New York Times ( March 15, 2001); and John Pomfret and Philip P. Pan, “Forced Child Labor Behind Deadly Explosion in China,” Washington Post (March 7, 2001). See also Rupert Wingfield-Hays, “China Blast Toll Rises,” South China Morning Po st (March 9, 2001); Frank Lagfitt, “China Leader Admits Kids Made Fireworks but Premier Asserts Practice Was Stopped After Earlier Blast,” Baltimore Sun ( March 16, 2001); Ching-Ching Ni, “Forced Child Labor Turns Deadly in China’s Needy School System,” Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2001.
101 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999—Dominican Republic (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1999), Section 6d (www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1999_hrp_report/ domrepub.html).
103 In Guatemala , between 3,000 and 5,000 children are employed in the fireworks industry. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000, Guatemala (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001), Section 6d.
104 Jill McGivering, “Festival of lights without fireworks,” (http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/ world/ south%5Fasia/newsid%5F990000/990606.stm) (Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 23:28 GMT 00:28 UK).
110 Statement by Jean Robert Cadet on Restavek Servitude before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, 25 th Session (Geneva: June 2000) [document on file].
112 Mohammad Farid, “Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation, and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,” in Irwanto, Mohammad Farid, and Jeffry Anwar, Situational Analysis of Children in Need of Special Protection in Indonesia (Jakarta: CSDS Atma Jaya, Department of Social Affairs, and UNICEF, 1998) 96-97.
118 ILO-IPEC. Children Working in Small-Scale Traditional Gold Mining in Peru: National base-line study for the Project for Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labor in Small-Scale Traditional Gold Mining in South America. Maria del Carmen Piazza. March 2001. 80 – 83.
119 Situation Analysis Report on Hazardous Child Labor in the Three Sectors: Plantations and Agriculture, Domestic and Allied Workers Union, and Tanzania Mining and Construction Workers Union (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Federation of Free Trade Unions (ILO-IPEC, 1997) 10.
123 The Inter-Agency Research Cooperation Project: Developing New Strategies for Understanding Children’s Work and Its Impact involves the active participation of three agencies: the International Labor Organization, Unicef and the World Bank. The project aims “to improve child labour research, data collection and data analysis; to enhance local and national capacity for child labour data collection and research; and to improve the assessment of existing interventions in this field.” See (www.ucw-project.org/) as accessed on August 16, 2001.
125 ILO Convention No. 138 emphasizes this point in Article 2, paragraph 3, which states, “The minimum age specified in pursuance of paragraph 1 of this Article shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling and, in any case, shall not be less than 15 years.” For full text of convention, see Appendix F.
126 Targeted sectors include: bidis , brassware, bricks, fireworks, footwear, glass bangles, locks, matches, stone quarries, and silk. The project will also include a review of existing efforts underway in the carpet industry. It is scheduled to begin in January 2002. “Preventing and Eliminating Child Labour in Identified Hazardous Sectors.” (Geneva: ILO-IPEC, September 2001).