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Child labour

Although focusing on persons with disabilities, their struggles, triumphs and education in general is always the focus of my articles, I want to highlight an area that really needs to be placed in the spotlight as it pertains to some of the most vulnerable persons in society.

All over the world there are crimes which are committed against children on a daily basis which deprive many if not all of them, of having anything close to a normal childhood. As a matter of fact, some of them do not even know what that means as many of them from an early age are forced and placed into what we have come to know as Child Labour.

But what exactly does that mean? The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and which is harmful to physical and mental development.

It refers to work that:

* Is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and

* Interferes with their schooling by:

* Depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;

* Obliging them to leave school prematurely; or

* Requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

In its most extreme forms, child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities — often at a very early age.

Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries.

Now before you start asking about chores around the house, there is like I said before, “work” which is acceptable that includes making the bed, cleaning the kitchen etc and if you live for example on a farm you might have to do anything from milking cows to cleaning pig pens etc.

However, child labour in its worst form incorporates various levels of slavery and also puts the child’s health and safety at risk sometimes in the most cruel form, some of which include:

(a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;

(b) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;

(c) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;

(d) Work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

In many large cities around the world there is a desperate call to stamp out all forms of child labour and while it wouldn’t happen overnight, there is progress being made. From Latin America and the Caribbean, to Asia to Africa, governments and organizations are working feverishly to not only put plans and policies in place to deal with this ugly practice, but to bring those responsible for it to justice.

Just in case you might be thinking that only a few children are caught up in this act of cruelty, the figures show that worldwide over 215 million children are involved in child labour! I cannot even begin to fathom the horror which is experienced on a daily basis by these children and the kind of global society we live in that would allow such to happen.

Our children are our greatest resource. They are our future, yet many of them are traumatized by ways and means which are on par with a horror movie. Some have to go without food and water, both boys and girls are pimped out by family members to perform all kinds of sexual acts on a consistent basis just to have their families needs met, and the physical pressure many of them especially boys are placed under is horrifying as many of them are sometimes left disabled and disfigured because of the dangers which they are exposed to.

Wherever we are in the world, let’s support the cause of those who want to make sure our children are kept safe and allowed to go to school, have friends and do what most of us took for granted — a childhood.

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