• Michael Laxer

Think child labour ended? Think again



Most people in the west have some notion that the horrors of child labour can only be found in the pages of some Dickensian 19th century tale of past exploitation and human woe.


But today, June 12th, the World Day Against Child Labour, it is important to note that this is not at all true.


Globally child labour still robs tens of millions of children of their childhood, education and their future.


According to a UNICEF and International Labour Organization (ILO) report Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward the "number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts" of the pandemic.


In a press release UNICEF notes that:


progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.
The report points to a significant rise in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labour, who now account for just over half of the total global figure. The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals – has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016.

It states further that:


In sub-Saharan Africa, population growth, recurrent crises, extreme poverty, and inadequate social protection measures have led to an additional 16.6 million children in child labour over the past four years.
Even in regions where there has been some headway since 2016, such as Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, COVID-19 is endangering that progress.
The report warns that globally, 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. A simulation model shows this number could rise to 46 million if they don't have access to critical social protection coverage.

Child labour is driven by extreme poverty and underdevelopment. It is an horrific result of the continued legacy and ongoing reality of imperialism, capitalism and colonialism as well as grotesque global inequality.


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