- Child labour
Child labour refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labour. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations and is illegal in many countries. Child labour was employed to varying extents through most of history, but entered public dispute with the advent of universal schooling, with changes in working conditions during the industrial revolution, and with the emergence of the concepts of workers' and children's rights.
In many developed countries, it is considered inappropriate or exploitative if a child below a certain age works (excluding household chores, in a family shop, or school-related work). An employer is usually not permitted to hire a child below a certain minimum age. This minimum age depends on the country and the type of work involved. States ratifying the Minimum Age Convention adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1973, have adopted minimum ages varying from 14 to 16. Child labor laws in the United States set the minimum age to work in an establishment without restrictions and without parents' consent at age 16, except for the agricultural industry where children as young as 12 years of age can work in the fields for an unlimited number of non-school hours. See Children's Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act).
The incidence of child labour in the world decreased from 25 to 10 percent between 1960 and 2003, according to the World Bank.
During the Industrial Revolution, children as young as four were employed in production factories with dangerous, and often fatal, working conditions. Based on this understanding of the use of children as labourers, it is now considered by wealthy countries to be a human rights violation, and is outlawed, while some poorer countries may allow or tolerate child labour. Child labour can also be defined as the full-time employment of children who are under a minimum legal age.
The Victorian era became notorious for employing young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps. Child labour played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset, often brought about by economic hardship, Charles Dickens for example worked at the age of 12 in a blacking factory, with his family in debtor's prison. The children of the poor were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low pay, earning 10-20% of an adult male's wage. In England and Scotland in 1788, two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were described as children. In 19th-century Great Britain, one-third of poor families were without a breadwinner, as a result of death or abandonment, obliging many children to work from a young age.
In coal mines, children would crawl through tunnels too narrow and low for adults.
Children also worked as errand boys, crossing sweepers, shoe blacks, or selling matches, flowers and other cheap goods. Some children undertook work as apprentices to respectable trades, such as building or as domestic servants (there were over 120,000 domestic servants in London in the mid-18th century). Working hours were long: builders worked 64 hours a week in summer and 52 in winter, while domestic servants worked 80 hour weeks.
Children as young as three were put to work. A high number of children also worked as prostitutes. Many children (and adults) worked 16 hour days. As early as 1802 and 1819 Factory Acts were passed to regulate the working hours of workhouse children in factories and cotton mills to 12 hours per day. These acts were largely ineffective and after radical agitation, by for example the "Short Time Committees" in 1831, a Royal Commission recommended in 1833 that children aged 11–18 should work a maximum of 12 hours per day, children aged 9–11 a maximum of eight hours, and children under the age of nine were no longer permitted to work. This act however only applied to the textile industry, and further agitation led to another act in 1847 limiting both adults and children to 10 hour working days.
An estimated 1.7 million children under the age of fifteen were employed in American industry by 1900. In 1910, over 2 million children in the same age group were employed in the United States.
Child labour is still common in some parts of the world, it can be factory work, mining, prostitution, quarrying, agriculture, helping in the parents' business, having one's own small business (for example selling food), or doing odd jobs. Some children work as guides for tourists, sometimes combined with bringing in business for shops and restaurants (where they may also work as waiters). Other children are forced to do tedious and repetitive jobs such as: assembling boxes, polishing shoes, stocking a store's products, or cleaning. However, rather than in factories and sweatshops, most child labour occurs in the informal sector, "selling many things on the streets, at work in agriculture or hidden away in houses—far from the reach of official labour inspectors and from media scrutiny."
According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 250 million children aged 5 to 14 in child labour worldwide, excluding child domestic labour. The United Nations and the International Labor Organization consider child labour exploitative, with the UN stipulating, in article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that:
...States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Although globally there is an estimated 250 million children working.
In the 1990s every country in the world except for Somalia and the United States became a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC. Somalia eventually signed the convention in 2002; the delay of the signing was believed to been due to Somalia not having a government.
In a recent paper, Basu and Van (1998) argue that the primary cause of child labour is parental poverty. That being so, they caution against the use of a legislative ban against child labour, and argue that should be used only when there is reason to believe that a ban on child labour will cause adult wages to rise and so compensate adequately the households of the poor children. Child labour is still widely used today in many countries, including India and Bangladesh. CACL estimated that there are between 70 and 80 million child labourers in India.
Child labour accounts for 22% of the workforce in Asia, 32% in Africa, 17% in Latin America, 1% in US, Canada, Europe and other wealthy nations. The proportion of child labourers varies greatly among countries and even regions inside those countries.
Recent child labour incidents
In early August 2008, Iowa Labor Commissioner David Neil announced that his department had found that Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking company in Postville which had recently been raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, had employed 57 minors, some as young as 14, in violation of state law prohibiting anyone under 18 from working in a meatpacking plant. Neil announced that he was turning the case over to the state Attorney General for prosecution, claiming that his department's inquiry had discovered "egregious violations of virtually every aspect of Iowa's child labor laws." Agriprocessors claimed that it was at a loss to understand the allegations. Agriprocessors' CEO went to trial on these charges in state court on May 4, 2010. After a five-week trial he was found not guilty of all 57 charges of child labour violations by the Black Hawk County District Court jury in Waterloo, Iowa, on June 7, 2010.
The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company operate a metal plantation in Liberia which is the focus of a global campaign called Stop Firestone. Workers on the plantation are expected to fulfil a high production quota or their wages will be halved, so many workers brought children to work. The International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against Firestone (The International Labor Fund vs. The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company) in November 2005 on behalf of current child labourers and their parents who had also been child labourers on the plantation. On June 26, 2007, the judge in this lawsuit in Indianapolis, Indiana, denied Firestone's motion to dismiss the case and allowed the lawsuit to proceed on child labour claims.
After the news of child labourers working in embroidery industry was uncovered in the Sunday Observer on 28 October 2007, BBA activists swung into action. The GAP Inc. in a statement accepted that the child labourers were working in production of GAP Kids blouses and has already made a statement to pull the products from the shelf. In spite of the documentation of the child labourers working in the high-street fashion and admission by all concerned parties, only the SDM (Sub-divisional Magistrate) could not recognise these children as working under conditions of slavery and bondage.
Distraught and desperate that these collusions by the custodians of justice, founder of BBA Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour appealed to the Honorable Chief Justice of Delhi High Court through a letter at 11.00 pm. This order by the Honorable Chief Justice comes when the government is taking an extremely reactionary stance on the issue of child labour in sweatshops in India and threatening 'retaliatory measures' against child rights organisations.
In a parallel development, Global March Against Child labour and BBA are in dialogue with the GAP Inc. and other stakeholders to work out a positive strategy to prevent the entry of child labour in to sweatshops and device a mechanism of monitoring and remedial action. GAP Inc. Senior Vice President, Dan Henkle in a statement said: "We have been making steady progress, and the children are now under the care of the local government. As our policy requires, the vendor with which our order was originally placed will be required to provide the children with access to schooling and job training, pay them an ongoing wage and guarantee them jobs as soon as they reach the legal working age. We will now work with the local government and with Global March to ensure that our vendor fulfils these obligations."
On October 28, Joe Eastman, president of Gap North America, responded, "We strictly prohibit the use of child labor. This is non-negotiable for us – and we are deeply concerned and upset by this allegation. As we've demonstrated in the past, Gap has a history of addressing challenges like this head-on, and our approach to this situation will be no exception. In 2006, Gap Inc. ceased business with 23 factories due to code violations. We have 90 people located around the world whose job is to ensure compliance with our Code of Vendor Conduct. As soon as we were alerted to this situation, we stopped the work order and prevented the product from being sold in stores. While violations of our strict prohibition on child labor in factories that produce product for the company are extremely rare, we have called an urgent meeting with our suppliers in the region to reinforce our policies."
In December 2009, campaigners in the UK called on two leading high street retailers to stop selling clothes made with cotton which may have been picked by children. Anti-Slavery International and the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) accused H&M and Zara of using cotton suppliers in Bangladesh. It is also suspected that many of their raw materials originates from Uzbekistan, where children aged 10 are forced to work in the fields. The activists were calling to ban the use of Uzbek cotton and implement a "track and trace" systems to guarantee an ethical responsible source of the material.
H&M said it "does not accept" child labour and "seeks to avoid" using Uzbek cotton, but admitted it did "not have any reliable methods" to ensure Uzbek cotton did not end up in any of its products. Inditex, the owner of Zara, said its code of conduct banned child labour.
In 1997, research indicated that the number of child labourers in the silk-weaving industry in the district of Kanchipuram in India exceeded 40,000. This included children who were bonded labourers to loom owners. Rural Institute for Development Education undertook many activities to improve the situation of child labourers. Working collaboratively, RIDE brought down the number of child labourers to less than 4,000 by 2007.
On November 21, 2005, an Indian NGO activist Junned Khan, with the help of the Labour Department and NGO Pratham mounted the country's biggest ever raid for child labour rescue in the Eastern part of New Delhi, the capital of India. The process resulted in rescue of 480 children from over 100 illegal embroidery factories operating in the crowded slum area of Seelampur. For next few weeks, government, media http://www.tehelka.com/story_main39.asp?filename=cr050708laterdayslave.asp and NGOs were in a frenzy over the exuberant numbers of young boys, as young as 5–6 year olds, released from bondage. This rescue operation opened the eyes of the world to the menace of child labour operating right under the nose of the largest democracy in the whole world.
Next few years Junned Khan did extensive campaigning on the issue of children involved in hazardous labour, advocating with the central and state governments for formulation of guidelines for rescue and rehabilitation of children affected by child labour. In 2005, after the rescue, Junned Khan, collaborated with BBA to file petition in the Delhi High Court for formulation of guidelines for rescue and rehabilitation of child labour. In the following years, Delhi's NGOs, came together with the Delhi Government and formulated an Action Plan for Rescue and Rehabilitation of child labour.
BBC recently reported on Primark using child labour in the manufacture of clothing. In particular, a £4.00 hand embroidered shirt was the starting point of a documentary produced by BBC's Panorama programme. The programme asks consumers to ask themselves, "Why am I only paying £4 for a hand embroidered top? This item looks handmade. Who made it for such little cost?", in addition to exposing the violent side of the child labour industry in countries where child exploitation is prevalent. As a result of the programme, Primark took action and sacked the relevant companies, and reviewed their supplier procedures.
Defence of child labour
Concerns have often been raised over the buying public's moral complicity in purchasing products assembled or otherwise manufactured in developing countries with child labour. However, others have raised concerns that boycotting products manufactured through child labour may force these children to turn to more dangerous or strenuous professions, such as prostitution or agriculture. For example, a UNICEF study found that after the Child Labor Deterrence Act was introduced in the US, an estimated 50,000 children were dismissed from their garment industry jobs in Bangladesh, leaving many to resort to jobs such as "stone-crushing, street hustling, and prostitution", jobs that are "more hazardous and exploitative than garment production". The study suggests that boycotts are "blunt instruments with long-term consequences, that can actually harm rather than help the children involved."
According to Milton Friedman, before the Industrial Revolution virtually all children worked in agriculture. During the Industrial Revolution many of these children moved from farm work to factory work. Over time, as real wages rose, parents became able to afford to send their children to school instead of work and as a result child labour declined, both before and after legislation. Austrian school economist Murray Rothbard said that British and American children of the pre- and post-Industrial Revolution lived and suffered in infinitely worse conditions where jobs were not available for them and went "voluntarily and gladly" to work in factories.
British historian and socialist E. P. Thompson in The Making of the English Working Class draws a qualitative distinction between child domestic work and participation in the wider (waged) labour market. Further, the usefulness of the experience of the industrial revolution in making predictions about current trends has been disputed. Social historian Hugh Cunningham, author of Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500, notes that:
- "Fifty years ago it might have been assumed that, just as child labour had declined in the developed world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so it would also, in a trickle-down fashion, in the rest of the world. Its failure to do that, and its re-emergence in the developed world, raise questions about its role in any economy, whether national or global."
According to Thomas DeGregori, an economics professor at the University of Houston, in an article published by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank operating in Washington D.C., "it is clear that technological and economic change are vital ingredients in getting children out of the workplace and into schools. Then they can grow to become productive adults and live longer, healthier lives. However, in poor countries like Bangladesh, working children are essential for survival in many families, as they were in our own heritage until the late 19th century. So, while the struggle to end child labour is necessary, getting there often requires taking different routes—and, sadly, there are many political obstacles.
The International Labour Organization’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), founded in 1992, aims to eliminate child labour. It operates in 88 countries and is the largest program of its kind in the world. IPEC works with international and government agencies, NGOs, the media, and children and their families to end child labour and provide children with education and assistance.
- Child prostitution
- Child slavery
- Child soldiers
- Children in cocoa production
- Children's rights movement
- Concerned for Working Children
- Firestone Liberian controversy
- Guaranteed minimum income
- History of childhood
- International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, IPEC
- International Research on Working Children
- Labour law
- Unfree labour
- Human trafficking
- Debt bondage
- Trafficking of children
- Legal working age
- London matchgirls strike of 1888
- Newsboys strike of 1819
- Street children
International conventions and other instruments:
- Pilot project on Delivery of water to households far from sources of safe water
- ILO Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)
- ILO Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105)
- ILO Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138)
- ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)
- ^ "The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England". Laura Del Col, West Virginia University.
- ^ "Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. http://web.archive.org/web/20060929152806/http://www.ohchr.org/english/countries/ratification/11.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
- ^ "Youth and Labor in America". United States Department of. http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
- ^ Norberg, Johan (2007), Världens välfärd (Stockholm: Government Offices of Sweden), p. 58
- ^ a b E. P. Thompson The Making of the English Working Class, (Penguin, 1968), pp. 366–7
- ^ Laura Del Col, West Virginia University, The Life of the Industrial Worker in Nineteenth-Century England
- ^ a b Barbara Daniels, Poverty and Families in the Victorian Era
- ^ "Child Labor and the Division of Labor in the Early English Cotton Mills". Douglas A. Galbi. Centre for History and Economics, King's College, Cambridge CB2 1ST.
- ^ Jane Humphries, Childhood And Child Labour In The British Industrial Revolution (2010) p 33
- ^ "Child Labor by Professor David Cody, Hartwick College". The Victorian Web. http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist8.html. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
- ^ "The Industrial Revolution". The Web Institute for Teachers.
- ^ "Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
- ^ Antelava, Natalia (2007-08-24). "Child labor in Kyrgyz coal mines". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6955202.stm. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
- ^ a b "The State of the World's Children 1997". UNICEF. http://www.unicef.org/sowc97/report/. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
- ^ Affirming Rights, UNICEF
- ^ "Worst Forms of Child Labor Recommendation, 1999". International Labor Organization. http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/convde.pl?R190. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
- ^ a b "Convention on the Rights of the Child". United Nations. Archived from the original on 2006-10-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20061003230539/http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
- ^ Unwire.org
- ^ Basu, Kaushik and Van, Phan Hoang, 1998. 'The Economics of Child Labor', American Economic Review, 88(3),412–427
- ^ Child Labour in India by Sabah Saeed
- ^ Facts and figures on child labour
- ^ Inquiry Finds Under-Age Workers at Meat Plant.
- ^ Julia Preston (June 7, 2010). "Former Manager of Iowa Slaughterhouse Is Acquitted of Labor Charges". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/08/us/08immig.html?ref=agriprocessors_inc. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ Globalmarch.org
- ^ "Media – Press Releases". Gap Inc.. 2007-10-28. http://www.gapinc.com/public/Media/Press_Releases/med_pr_vendorlabor102807.shtml. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- ^ "Stores urged to stop using child labour cotton"
- ^ http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dYdQ0FFy17gJ:www.thehindu.com/2005/11/21/stories/2005112111620100.htm+junned+khan&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in
- ^ "HindustanTimes-Print". Hindustantimes.com. 2007-01-13. http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/141752.aspx. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- ^ "Delhi High Court approves guidelines for child labor cases". Thaindian.com. 2009-07-15. http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/delhi-high-court-approves-guidelines-for-child-labour-cases_100218354.html. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- ^ BBC News
- ^ a b Hugh Cunningham, "The Employment and Unemployment of Children in England c.1680–1851." Past and Present. Feb., 1990. doi:10.1093/past/126.1.115
- ^ Murray Rothbard, Down With Primitivism: A Thorough Critique of Polanyi Ludwig Von Mises Institute, reprint of June 1961 article.
- ^ DeGregori, Thomas R., "Child Labor or Child Prostitution?" Cato Institute.
- ^ a b IPEC
- ILO Minimun Estimate of Forced Labour in the World. (2005)
- The Cost of Coercion ILO 2009
- International Labour Office. (2005). A global alliance against forced labour
- Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings 2009 ILO/SAP-FL
- Lists of indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings 2009 ILO/SAP-FL
- Eradication of forced labour - General Survey concerning the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), and the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No. 105) - ILO 2007
- Forced Labour: Definition, Indicators and Measurement 2004 - ILO
- Stopping Forced Labour 2001 - ILO
- Baland, Jean-Marie and James A. Robinson (2000) 'Is child labor inefficient?' Journal of Political Economy 108, 663–679
- Basu, Kaushik, and Homa Zarghamee (2009) 'Is product boycott a good idea for controlling child labour? A theoretical investigation' Journal of Development Economics 88, 217–220
- Bhukuth, Augendra. "Defining child labour: a controversial debate" Development in Practice (2008) 18, 385–394
- Emerson, Patrick M., and André Portela Souza. "Is Child Labor Harmful? The Impact of Working Earlier in Life on Adult Earnings" Economic Development and Cultural Change 59:345–385, January 2011 DOI: 10.1086/657125 uses data from Brazil to show very strong negative effects—boys who work before age 14 earn much less as adults
- Humbert, Franziska. The Challenge of Child Labour in International Law (2009)
- Humphries, Jane. Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (2010)
- ILO, Investing in every child: An economic Study of the Costs and Benefits of Eliminating Child Labor
- Ravallion, Martin, and Quentin Wodon (2000) 'Does child labour displace schooling? Evidence on behavioural responses to an enrollment subsidy' Economic Journal 110, C158-C175
- "Child Employing Industries," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 35, Mar., 1910 in JSTOR, articles by experts in 1910
- Goldberg, Ellis. Trade, Reputation, and Child Labor in Twentieth-Century Egypt (2004) excerpt and text search ]
- Grier, Beverly. Invisible Hands: Child Labor and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe (2005)
- Hindman, Hugh D. Child Labor: An American History (2002)
- Humphries, Jane. Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (Cambridge Studies in Economic History) (2011) excerpt and text search
- Kirby, Peter. Child Labour in Britain, 1750-1870 (2003) excerpt and text search
- Mofford, Juliet. Child Labor in America (1970)
- Tuttle, Carolyn. Hard At Work In Factories And Mines: The Economics Of Child Labor During The British Industrial Revolution (1999)
- Concerned for Working Children An India-based non-profit organization working towards elimination of child labour
- The OneWorld guide to child labour
- International Research on Child Labour
- Bonilla, Fernando. Child labour: a vulnerability profile.
- History Place Photographs from 1908–1912
- The State of the World's Children – a UNICEF study
- "United States Child Labor, 1908–1920: As Seen Through the Lens of Sociologist and Photographer Lewis W. Hine" (video)
- Child Labour in Chile, 1880–1950 download complete text, in spanish
- International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour International Labour Organization (UN)
- World Day Against Child Labour 12 June
- 12 to 12 community portal ILO sponsored website on the elimination of child labour
- Rare child labor photos from the U.S. Library of Congress
- The ILO Special Action Programme to combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL)
Child labour in diamond industry
- Human Rights Watch News and Report
- "Child Labour in the Diamond Industry". International Labour Organization. http://www.ilo.org/public/english/dialogue/actrav/child/proj/childiam.htm.
- Fofana, Lansana (August 28, 2003). "Children working in Sierra Leone mines". BBC news. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3189299.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- "Diamonds Are Forever, But Not The Lives Of Child Workers". November 2006. http://ihscslnews.org/view_article.php?id=162.
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