ROME – For millions of children, the pandemic has meant hunger, poverty and an obstacle to their right to education. This condemns Report on child labor 2022 of the International Federation Terre des Hommes. International data on child labor is alarming and unprecedented. For the first time in 20 years, the phenomenon is increasing worldwide, and Covid19 has exposed almost 9 million more children to the risk of impoverishing their right to healthy growth and adequate education.
Children abused to work. In this very violent 2022, but already from 2020, minors are forced into unworthy jobs on the rise in the world. Children between the ages of 5 and 11 who are exposed to occupations that are incompatible with their age have increased significantly and make up just over half of the total number worldwide. Since 2016, the number of children aged 5 to 17 employed in dangerous jobs (which can harm children’s and young people’s health and psycho-physical and moral development) has increased by 6.5 million to 79 million. Over 1/3 of the working children, between 5 and 17 years old, do not go to school. They are mostly children forced into very heavy jobs, especially in the agricultural sector and in mines all over the world (Africa and India at the forefront: children have small hands, very suitable for the extraction of metals and precious stones, essential for the growth of Industries in the first world). More boys than girls are being forced into this kind of humiliation. To date, they have increased by a figure of 9 million compared to recent years.
The areas with the highest utilization of children. Sub-Saharan Africa, population growth, recurring crises, extreme poverty and inadequate social protection measures have forced an additional 16.6 million children into child labor over the last four years. Even in regions where there has been progress since 2016, such as Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, COVID-19 jeopardizes these advances.
The situation of children in Peru and India. In the context of the World Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor (held May 15-20 in Durban, South Africa) and ILO data (United Nations International Labor Organization)Terres des Hommes brings forth Child Labor Report 2002, centered on the exploitation of children in Peru and India, where they are subjected to indecent abuse. Through case studies, the report shows how many children have given up going to school and have had to start working to ensure the survival of their families. Unfortunately, even the distance learning tool was not a solution within everyone’s reach.
Dropout and early marriages. In many countries around the world, children, and especially girls, have lost many hours in school because they did not have access to the technological tools to follow distance learning lessons. In both countries, the pandemic has made the food supply difficult and in India the risk of early marriages for girls is also increased as families are no longer able to guarantee them care and support. Terre des Hommes directly involved children, young workers with their parents, teachers and government representatives through workshops where clear recommendations were developed to return to sustainable and equitable living conditions after the pandemic. Boys and girls are asking for educational opportunities and digital tools so they can continue studying at home.
Peruvian children: good street vendors. To give a separate idea between the two South American and peaceful realities, the Peruvian bambi works mainly as street vendors. Their parents lost their jobs during the pandemic and see no opportunities in their future. Before Covid19, they went to school, but for the past two years, they have had no choice but to drop out of school and increase their street work. Peruvian school staff and officials envision an education system that provides the technological resources needed to ensure children’s access to learning, even in the event of future emergencies.
The small bins with toxic material. Indian children: large collectors of mica, the toxic mineral but necessary for large industries. In India, girls and boys report that they have to compensate for their parents’ loss of income by digging in mines for mica – a mineral also used in the cosmetics and electronics industry for its pearly luster and good conductivity. This is an extremely dangerous job: they often have to go down into unprotected wells up to 20 meters deep, and children and teenagers risk their lives during extraction. In India, children and adults would like the government to provide scholarships, school supplies and bicycles for girls and boys from vulnerable families, as well as free transportation for students traveling to a school outside their village. . In addition, boys and girls and their families require decent working conditions for adults.
The role of the international community. “The report shows how much children are suffering from the consequences of the pandemic – comments Paolo Ferrara, general manager of Terre des Hommes Italien and representative of International Federation Council – The well-being of children is threatened by the consequences of the pandemic. In the regions of the world where we are present, we are seeing an alarming increase in the use of child labor. The international community must commit itself to measures that enable the poorest to live with the consequences of Covid19 and regain access to economic provision and social assistance. This should include, above all, the protection of children from violence and access to education that enables boys and girls to receive an education and not to be exploited. “