Saturday, 30 October 2010

Will child labour ever end ?

Perhaps the single most disgrace to the human race is the fact that child labour is still practiced worldwide. A child according to Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of a Child 1989 is anyone under the age of eighteen years unless in the particular jurisdiction he attains the age of majority earlier. This convention  has been  singed by most Nations with a view to stopping child labour. Yet the practice continues. In India the Penal Court considers a child to be anyone below the age of twelve. Similar laws exists in many other countries including Bangladesh and some parts of Africa. The reality is that until nations become serious about tackling the issue many more generations of children will continue to be subject to this form of abuse.

The question therefore is whether we can truly say that Nations are serious about putting an end to child labour? In this piece a look will be taken at two International Conventions that were intended to finally put an end to the practice. these conventions are, The International Labour Organization Minimum Age Convention No 138 of 1973 and the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of the Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. the former was intended to to set a minimum age at which a child could enter employment and recognize the child's rights as sacrosanct. Unfortunately Article 2 of that convention  though accepting that eighteen years as an acceptable age for work likely to be hazardous to the child failed to deal adequately with he issue. This reveals itself in the reality that minimum age for the purposes of that Article may be attained earlier than eighteen. It is not surprising therefore that in 2007 the United Nations Children Fund reported that in Malaysia children spend up to seventeen hours per day working on rubber plantations exposed to snake and insect bite. The report further noted that in Portugal children 12 years old were working in the construction industry.

Article 1 of the latter notes that its purpose is to combat sexual exploitation and abuse of children, protect the rights of  child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. The convention adds to a long list of commitments undertaken by European Governments. In Britain in particular, Sexual exploitation of children is taken very seriously, yet A Gilbert and C Moore recently suggests  that although in the last ten years much has been done  to combat the issue, the road to curbing child sexual exploitation seems endless.

These conventions form a long list other international efforts to combat child labour and abuse but it seems that these problems will never be overcome. Perhaps the most shameful piece of information that was discovered  during  the investigation to write this post is that there is suggestions that most of the produce of child labour eventually end up on the shelves of stores in the  nations that lead the fight to end child labour.

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