Child Labour is A Crime Against Humanity
Over the years, the world has come to the realisation that child labour is a crime not just against the victims but indeed to humanity at large. This was given effect in 2002 when the International Labour Organisation (ILO), an organ of the United Nations launched the World Day Against Child Labour observed annually on June 12.
The ILO was responding to the global seven million man march in 1998 across five continents demanding for an end to child labour.
As the world marks the 2018 World Day Against Child Labour, Media Women Forum joins various governments, advocacy groups, non-governmental organisations and indeed humanity to further call for a complete end to this menace.
It is still on record that millions of children aged five to fourteen are denied of their childhood and forced to work hard for long hours with menial remuneration for survival.
It is worth emphasising for the umpteenth time that childhood is the right of every child regardless of race, culture, religion or creed. This is the period that a child acquires basic knowledge about life from parents, family and the environment. Interfering in this part of their lives can create an imbalance in their growth and development.
Despite this international concern, the rate of child labour is still very high with the major reasons for this increase given as poverty, desperation to escape violence, ineffective laws, illiteracy, ignorance, lack of schools and high rate of unemployment. The scourge of child labour is particularly worrisome in developing countries where the above factors are prevalent.
Statistics from the United Nations show that about a quarter of the world population is living in extreme poverty with about 80 million children out of school.
Depriving children of proper education tends to breed socially dangerous and harmful citizens. It also makes these children easy targets of human traffickers which has become a common phenomenon and a major precursor to child labour.
It is against this background that the Media Women Forum wants child labour to be seen and treated as a crime against humanity.
The situation in Nigeria is particularly worrisome. Nigeria has sadly become a source, transit and destination country for the trafficking of children for child labour. While reliable statistics of children trafficked in and out of Nigeria is not available owing to the clandestine nature of the crime, it is however pertinent that there is an urgent need to eradicate child labour.
Different methods are used to take these innocent children from their ignorant parents and families. These methods include coercion, persuasion, deception and sometimes violence. Some children are recruited with promises of a better life in urban centres.
To eradicate child labour therefore, child trafficking should be criminalised by governments of all countries while employment opportunities for adults should be increased. There is also a need for strict and more effective laws against child labour.
In 2003, Nigeria enacted the Child Rights Acts to domesticate the convention on the rights of the child. Unfortunately, the law has not been effective as 20 of the 36 State Houses of Assembly are yet to enact it. UNICEF and other Child Rights advocacy groups have continued to intensify efforts for the 20 Houses of Assembly to pass the law. This perhaps explains why Nigeria is unable to deal effectively with child labour and other issues affecting the rights of children.
It is therefore incumbent on the Governors of these states to take up the challenge and get their Assemblies to pass the act, which in any event is for the future prosperity of these states. Governments at all levels must also ensure that the right of children to basic education is inalienable. On this note, state governments that have instituted the policy of free and basic education must be commended.
The members of the Houses of Assemblies yet to pass this Act must also note that posterity will judge them if they stand on the wrong side of history by refusing to endorse the Child Rights Act.
In any event, government alone cannot stop child labour. Eliminating child labour is a collective responsibility. Parents should allow their children the right to education regardless of their economic status. Business owners should no longer involve children in any type of labour.
Finally, high level social awareness on the dangers of child labour should be embarked upon to renew commitment and accelerate actions to end this modern day slavery.