Child labor: Regional Comparison
One of the greatest vices resulting from poverty globally is child labor. Child labor entails the use of children (as defined in statutory laws) in habitual as well as continual employment. From Burkina faso to China all the way to Argentina, the vice transverses continents regardless of a nation’s wealth. In particular areas such as Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, the vice is aggravated by the grim ripples of HIV epidemic and poverty (Hindman, 2009 pp 312). Children in these countries leave home to be employed in plantations to support their ailing parents and siblings. Regardless of support offered to orphans by relatives, poverty disables the support system. Additionally, the possibility of an adult employing a child increases as the relation diminishes. This is evidenced by the notoriety attributed to fostering in Africa as a breeding ground for child labor. This is in spite of fostering having being practiced since historical ages in Africa. Poverty is an imperative cause of child labor and has a proportional relationship with the vice as observed in Africa, parts of Asia and South America.
Several approaches can be used to explain child labor. The first and most common is poverty necessitating children to earn income as the family is impoverished. For instance, a case study between Ethiopia and Ghana indicates the vice is more rampant in Ethiopia. Child labor also starts earlier in the Ethiopia as compared to Ghana. It is thus concluded high poverty levels increases incidences as well as severity of child labor. Additionally, especially in Africa, the benefits associated with attending schools are out weighted by a child working. The primary cause being low educational standards and poor educational facilities (Hindman, 2009 pp 258). Another approach to child labor can be seen in china, where the government is reluctant to deal with the child right violation. In particular, some governments such as in Tajik and China view the vice as method of poverty alleviation and economic empowerment. Children as young as seven years have been seen to work in cotton farms in Tajik all awhile providing lifeline wage of their families.
Eastern Europe is unevenly developed in regards economic welfare. The high-income discrepancy between rural and urban areas with the later with better living standards has resulted to child labor existing unnoticed unlike the issue of street children. For instance, Romania has ninety percent of the child laborers occurring in the rural areas. However, most of the children work in their own households while the deeply improvised households have their children rented out. External migration has been observed where the children cross national boundaries in search of work opportunities increasing their vulnerability to child trafficking and prostitution.
A vital cause of child labor especially in regions characterized by high illiteracy levels is the dogma in communities that children should work and help their families. These believe makes it hard for statutory laws restricting the vice to be fully adhered. Communities and societies additionally differ in gauging the severity of work that results to child labor. Apart from that, there are different opinions on the adverse effects of the vice, where some communities lack the awareness and information regarding the negative effects related to work. Fitting the sanctioned vice into cultural context is important in integrating the communities in combating child labor. For instance, the caste system in India determines the nature of work children engage in where higher castes are emphatic on inheriting the vocations where as lower caste children work for wages while the traditional occupations are discarded (Hobbs, 1999 pp114). The children from the Dalit castes are discriminated against and are unable to access occupations with higher wages. The occupations designated for them are usually hazardous and stigmatizing.
Religion embraced by these cultures shapes the functionality of children in the society. This is evidenced in Africa where countries such as Senegal and Ghana have a high awareness childhood due of previous Christian influences from the colonial era. On the other hand, the convectional ideals of Islam are observed to calcify child labor in sub-Saharan Africa where forty percent of the population is Islamic. In these regions, parents place their male children with Quranic teachers and during the period, they engage in almsgiving. This is one of the five pillars of Islam and instills humility since the children are made to beg. Additionally, in the northern regions of Nigeria, children form the intermediaries between women and business in markets since the religion restricts their engagement.
Child labor has resulted in associated child violations such as child trafficking. Reports in Nigeria indicated one out of the five children smuggled would die out of disease or starvation. Sadly, children trafficking syndicates are employed by well up firms seeking low operation costs by hiring minors whom they pay low wages. Additionally, in countries such as Thailand the most common form of child labor is child prostitution. This vice has reduced given the strict government regulations however; incidences of child abduction and kidnapping are on the increase as the perpetuators seek to meet the “market demand” of child prostitutes.
Uzbekistan is another Asian country reputed for its serious child right violations through child labor. The country’s primary export is cotton grossing one billion dollars of export money to the country. However, sixty percent of the labor involved in production of the cotton is child labor. The situation is so grim to the extent schools break for a month’s recess during the harvesting period. Children are then transported in buses to the farms while under state protection to participate in harvesting. Numerous international organizations advocating for child rights adherence in Central Asian published the violations in Uzbekistan leading to various multinationals boycotting the cotton.
One factor increasing the difficulty of controlling and monitoring the vice is majority of child laborers are in the informal industries. This can be exemplified by Mexico where thirty percent of the farm labor in the country can be attributed to children. Furthermore, child labor also occurs in the household where young girls and boys constitute of the house girls or houses boys whom work up to sixteen hours a day. In some Latin America societies such as the Mayan, children are known to leave school in the harvesting seasons as well as planting seasons to help the family. Honduras is another Latin America illustration with maquilas (industry plants) having underage girls working to meet high quotas usually taking them sixteen to eighteen hours to complete. The working conditions are unsafe and oppressive where they are required to take birth controls since they are sexually molested by their employers.
The effects of child labor far exceed what is normally understood and visible. Children entrapped in laboring miss the excellent opportunity of engaging in educational development (Hobbs, 1999, pp 32). Consequently, the future of the child and the family they will have is likely to be entrapped in the poverty circle. Ultimately, the economic welfare of the population and the country is inhibited. Additionally, social apathy creeps in where children are viewed as mere assets to generate income for family particularly the parents. These children miss the relational and social aspect between children and parents. The possibility of the child perpetuating such violations on others is high since there is imprinting of a skewed perception of normal social as well as family relations.
Child labor creates a vulnerability to the child for further violations such as sexual molestation and exploitation. For instance, in India as well as Mumbai, children lured from impoverished outskirts allegedly to be domestic workers end up trapped in brothels and other red-light districts, where as in Congo child soldiers are regularly recruited from the mining fields to protect these mineral rich turfs. In Mexico and Nicaragua, children are exposed and subsequently engaged in drug syndicates. The nature of such crimes predisposes the children to addictions, murder and even arrest.
The vices brings with it negative effects on the child’s health due to the manual involvement of some tasks. The physical demands of these tasks affect the physical development of these children especially the growth in height. Additionally, the hazardous work environments in factories and other sweatshops predispose the children to lung diseases, blood poisoning as well as cancer due to radiation effects of some minerals. However, the integration of poverty and labor effects may increase the difficulty of clearly pointing out the effects on each on a child (Fassa 2010, pp55).
In spite of the high occurrence of child labor in the world where close to three hundred million children are involved, progress has been made over time in increasing awareness and creation of laws to restrict the vice. Education is among the solutions increasing the bargaining power of the children in future job markets. Literacy is a sure grantee of economic empowerment to the affect communities entailing provision of quality and adequately funded educational institutions. Developing countries have collaborated with developed countries and monetary institutions to provide free quality education to their populations Kenya being a notable example.
International embargos on exports from countries known to encourage child labor has led them to re-think their stances on the issue and work towards elimination. More pressure in form of statuary laws and embargos on international as well as local firms to be more socially responsible has seen the reduction of sweatshops. Moreover, the international corporation between countries to crack down and shut child trafficking and prostitution rings has bore fruit especially in Eastern Europe. In Africa, there have been campaigns directed at increasing birth control there by ensuring parents have children whom they can comfortably provide for.
Hindman, Hugh D. The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe, 2009. Print.
Hobbs, Sandy, Lavalette Michael, and Jim MacKechnie. Child Labor: A World History Companion. Santa Barbara, Calif. [u.a.: ABC-CLIO, 1999. Print.
Fassa, Anaclaudia G, David L. Parker, and Thomas J. Scanlon. Child Labour: A Public Health Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.