Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, once said that “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Undoubtedly, children are the one who holds the future of the country and they are the best gift to human kind. Children should have brought up in an environment which helps them in their future, those children who are brought up in an environment which is helpful to their mental and physical health develops to be a productive and responsible representative of the society. If any children perform work when they are too young for the responsibilities, they unfairly reduce their present progress or their future income earning capabilities, either by declining their future extraneous choice sets or by reducing their own future personal productive capabilities.
According to the International Labor Organization, “Child Labor” is simply defined as the work that makes children deprived of their rights. “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social diseases of poverty, you will both have child labor and poverty to the end”- (Grace Abbott). There is a very big difference between child labor and child work, simply work become child labor when any of the children are deprived of their childhood rights (Brandon, 2015).
It is a sad reality that in this era more number of children are robbed of their innocence by controlling them from the outside world, some children are forced to grow up soon beyond their age while some are forced to face a miserable condition by making them do the things that are not acceptable by the society, whereas some children are given a mental trauma which is caused due to the breakdown of family life or peer pressure, others are abandoned, while many do not get an opportunity to go to school and are left to feed themselves or their family on the street (Wong, 2010). The International Labor Office reports that children are the one who works the longest hours, and they are the one who are paid the worst, or some even does not get paid at all (Bequele & Boyden, 1988).
As we can see from the above diagram the number of child labor in Africa which is more than one-fifth of the population of the country. Asia has another high number of population of child labor where India covers a high percentage of it. A major reason why India has the largest child workforce because 82 million of children population does not go to school (Weiner, 1991). While, In Pakistan 10 per cent of workers are in between the ages of 10 and 14 years (Weiner, 1991). There are 7million of child workers in Brazil which is very common practice in South America (International Labor Organization, 1992).
From the developed countries child labor was almost completely reduced but, however currently, child labor is taking the hype in developing countries where the main causes are-rapid population growth, high rates of unemployment in the country, inflation, poverty, malnutrition, bad leadership, corruption and low wages (Bass, 2004). Normally children are not registered as the employers and are forced to work on a very poor and dangerous situation without any kinds of protection (Serwadda & Luwaga, 2005).
Generally, speaking poverty is more prevalent in the rural area especially among those people who depend on agriculture as their livelihood, so children around there are more likely to be engaged in economic labor activities compared to urban children (Akarro& Mtweve, 2011). For some families it is a compulsion to send their child to work because one’s earning is not enough, also poor rural families consider that making their children work may increase household’s income which helps them to survive (Serwadda & Luwaga, 2005). Usually, the girls from urban cities like Mumbai, Calcutta and New Delhi usually faced the most vulnerable activities, they are typically trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation (Baker, 2008). There are also many problems with the poor urban children such as lack of education, healthcare and social protection (Baker, 2008). Mainly child labors practiced in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa are facing the worst forms of child labor which includes child trafficking, bonded child labor, domestic works, and other risky works, the children who are working in hazardous jobs which are exposed to chemicals, and other dangerous tools are more than 90 percent (Amon, 2012).
Girls and boys can be even found in various types of economic activities ,for example, boys are more likely to do work which includes manufacturing, trade, restaurants, hotels, and transport, while girls are mainly focused on agriculture and domestic work (World Bank, 2005). Most numbers of boys tend to be engaged in economic activities whereas girls are more involved in household activities like taking care of their siblings, doing household chores (Mamadou, 2009). Although, in general, we do not see most of the girls in labor activities, but they are the one who represents a very high percentage of working children. (Ray, 2001) the research carried out in Nepal and Pakistan shows that gender bias was more prevalence in Pakistan than compared to Nepal, in Pakistan boys are more likely to work longer and they also tend to get more wages than girls even working for equal hours and rural children are more poorer than the urban children, while this case is opposite in Nepal.
Poverty is taken as the main cause of child labor not only this, poverty creates many other problems like prostitution, corruption, robbery, malnutrition, poor living condition of people, increased unemployment etc. (Owolabi, 2012; Ekpenyong & Sibirii, 2011). In general, poor people oblige their children to work in order to increase the household income because one person earning is too little to feed the whole family, and parents are not able to take care of all the responsibilities of the children as they earn very little (Khan, 2001). (Krueger, 1996) the study from cross-country sample shows that low-income households are more likely to send their children to labor market which is very uncommon practice in richer households. (Aqil, 2012) assumes that the children whose parents have worked in their childhood tend to send their children to work as well, passing it from generation to generation. (Fasih, 2007) assumes that child labor creates unskilled and uneducated labor as they do not get the chance to pursue their education which in turn affects the country’s whole development and economy.
The increasing numbers of orphaned children particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, have become street children, while other lives in very different circumstances (Vandenberg, 2007). According to (Tauson, 2009) in rural places, parents want their children to work because they think that children will learn the work skill and consider it beneficial to them. Corruption within the country is one of the main reason for misusing the resources, corruption and poverty are interrelated where there is poverty there is also corruption (Murphy, 2005). For example, in the country like India employers corrupt labor inspectors to hire underage children where the incidence of a large number of child labors indicates towards corruption (United Nations Development Programm,2012). According to (Dash, 2013) many poor rural families migrates to urban cities like Delhi, where migrant families and their children are forced to work for survival and economic opportunities.
The studies suggest that the problem which is resulted from the increasing child labor of globalization can be reduced by the higher income and a higher standard of living (Congdon, 2012). There is also an argument that globalization helps to expand the opportunity of exploiting cheap labor, especially from low-income countries. For example, countries like Vietnam, Mexico and Thailand have provided evidence that child labor in these countries have declines due to globalization, but some countries like Bolivia and Zambia have shown a decline in schooling and an increase in child labor due to globalization (Mishra, 2012).
Parent’s education plays a vital role in children education if parents are educated there is a very high chance for their children to have a good education (Aqil, 2012 & Wahba, 2000). The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are two of the predominant international agencies which are working against child labor. According to the studies of (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005; O’Donnell, 2005; Akarro & Mtweve, 2011), they assume that reduction of poverty can be a perfect solution to minimize child labor. UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank have confirmed that education is the key strength to reduce child labor (Kruger, 2007). Compulsory education law in the country can help children to attend school and fight against child labor, the policy program that works regarding child labor must provide free good quality and compulsory education to working children especially in poor regions (Bhat, 2011).
Some studies like (Dessy & Pallage, 2003) argue not all the work done by children is harmful or brutal, some work may provide successful learning opportunities, such as helping elders in household activities in their free time, or newspaper delivery or some part-time jobs, but not if the work exposes them to psychological stress, like human trafficking, prostitution and pornographic activities.
Regardless of the benefits that a person can get from the child by making them doing work, we still tend to believe that child labor is unethical, and it must stop. The pleasure of many people that child labor brings to them cannot be used as approval of its continuity. It is inhumane to use a child as a means and object for the pleasure of others. What is considered ever-lasting is the pain that a child must encounter for the sake of others. A child should experience having fun with their playmates and not having to compromise with the hostile environment and hazardous machines. A child should be given the opportunity to get a better education but never the chance to be manipulated. The campaign toward the dispose of child labor is undoubtedly a long way, but with our concerted and sincere efforts, we can certainly say that there are no more stories about the plight of the unseen workers.
- Ahmad, Ayaz (2012) Poverty, Education and Child Labor in Aligarh City-India. Stud Home Com Sci. pp. 165-172.
- Aqil, Zahid (2012). “Nexus between Poverty & Child Labor: Measuring the Impact of Poverty Alleviation on Child Labour”. Good Thinkers Organization for Human Development, Kasur.
- Baker, Judy L. (2008). “Urban Poverty: A Global Overview.” World Bank, Washington D.C. January 2008.
- Bhat, Bilal Ahmad(2011).Child Labour in the Cotton Industry of Uzbekistan: a sociological study. Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir. Vol. 54.2011, 1, pages. 84-99
- Boyden, Jo, Birgitta Ling and Myers, William (1998). What Works for Working Children Smedjebacken: UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden.
- Congdon Fors, H. (2012) ‘Social Globalization and Child Labor ‘ Journal of Economic Surveys, forthcoming.
- Dessy , Sylvain and Pallage, Stéphane (2003). A Theory of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The Economic Journal 115 (500), 68-87.
- Edmonds, E. and N. Pavcnik (2005), “Child labor in the global economy”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 19: 199-220.
- Fasih, T. (2007). Analyzing the Impact of Legislation on Child Labor in Pakistan. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4399.
- ILO (International Labour Office). 1992. World Labour Report 1992. Geneva.
- Khan, Rana Ejaz Ali (2001). Socioeconomic Aspects of Child Labour: A Case Study of Children in Auto Workshops. The Lahore Journal of Economics No. 6, No.1.
- Krueger, A., (1996). “Observations On International Labor Standards And Trade,” NBER Working Paper Series, Working Paper 5632.
- Mamadou , Thiam, (2009) -How changes in Schooling Affect Child Labor: The case of 3 FTI Countries, 3, 6-7; available from http://www.educationfasttrack.org/media/library/ Education_Child_Labor.pdf.
- Mishra, L. 2012, History of Labour Rights . Social Change, no. 42.vol.3, pp. 335–357.
- O’Donnell, O., Rosati, F.C., and van Doorslaer, E., (2005). Health effects of child work: Evidence from rural Vietnam. Journal of Population Economics 18, 437–467.
- Owolabi, Elizabeth Folake (2012), Child abuse and sustainable development in Nigeria. African Journal of Social Sciences. Volume 2 No.2, pp. 108-119.
- Serwadda-Luwaga, James. (2005). Child labor and scholastic retardation A thematic analysis of the 1999 Survey of Activities of Young People in South Africa. Thesis (MA (Demography) University of Pretoria.
- Tauson , Michaelle (2009). ‘Child Labor in Latin America: Poverty as Cause and Effect.
- United Nations Development Program (2012). Seeing Beyond the State: Grassroots Women’s Perspectives on Corruption and Anti-Corruption. Institution: UNDP
- Weiner, M. 1991. The Child and the State in India. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.