In Pakistan, brothers Mohen and Nihal* began working on carpet looms when they were four and five years old in order to help their family meet their basic needs.
“The health hazards caused to us are that our fingers are trimmed and we have to work all day long. Often for a couple of days in a week, we have to work for the whole day and night. Mohen often gets miserable and fatigued with the long hours or work and he tries to escape. Then the master weaver keeps a strict watch on him and never lets him move for three or four days.
(Source: Anti-Slavery International)
There are over 100 million children aged between 5 and 17 who are trapped in hazardous work, including slave-like conditions.
This is a problem that can be fixed.
In fact, due to global efforts, between 2000 and 2004 the number of children trapped in hazardous work fell from 171 million to 126 million. The peak body at the UN working on child labour issues, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) believes that child slavery can be eliminated by 2016.
What is needed is the will to do so backed by modest funding.
International Program for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)
IPEC is the largest program worldwide focusing on the elimination of child labour. The overall aim of IPEC is to progressively eliminate exploited child labour, through strengthening the capacity of countries to deal with the problem and promoting a worldwide movement to combat exploitation of children in work. Working with governments, non-government organisations and employers, IPEC has implemented programs that have effectively reduced child labour in 88 countries worldwide. The aspects of labour targeted by these programs include debt bondage, serfdom, recruitment of children for armed conflict, child prostitution, child pornography, drug production and trafficking, slavery and the sale or trafficking of children.
IPEC points out that exploited child labour not only prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future, it also perpetuates poverty and affects national economies through losses in competitiveness, productivity and potential income. Withdrawing children from exploitative labour, providing them with education and assisting their families with training and employment opportunities contribute directly to creating decent work for adults.
Australia’s involvement with IPEC
Australia has contributed US$352,281 in aid to IPEC in the 12 year period between 1992 and 2003, but has not made a financial contribution to the work of IPEC since 2003. In the period 1992-2007 Germany contributed US$66 million, the UK US$34 million and the USA US$258 million.
JustAct believes that Australia should support the International Program for the Elimination of Child labour (IPEC), which is the largest international program to end exploited child labour in the world. Stop the Traffik, a global coalition of organisations and individuals working against people trafficking and child labour, believes that Australia’s fair share of funding to IPEC would only be approximately 10 cents per Australian.
An annual contribution to IPEC would be one step Australia could take to fulfill its international obligations to provide assistance globally to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
10 Cent Campaign
For more details on the 10 Cent Campaign go to the STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia website at www.stopthetraffik.org.au/campaigns/10cent.asp
Hardcopy brochures for the 10 Cent Campaign for distribution to friends, family or work colleagues can be obtained by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org saying how many brochures you would like and provide an address for them to be mailed out to.