The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. 2018’s World Day Against Child Labour Day shines a spotlight on the global need to improve the safety and health of young workers and end child labour.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour. Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
Child Labour in Nigeria
This remains a major source of concern in Nigeria, in spite of legislative measures. Child labour is defined as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and deprives them of opportunities for schooling and development.
According to the International Labour Organization, the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria is estimated at 15 million. The high level of diverse and tedious jobs that children execute in dangerous circumstances is particularly worrying. These jobs include being street vendors, beggars, car washers or watchers and shoe shiners. Others work as apprentice mechanics, hairdressers and bus conductors while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands.
Research also shows that child workers display poor educational achievements. Girls start working at an earlier age than boys, particularly in the rural areas. They also suffer the triple burden of housework, school work and work out of home whether paid or unpaid. One of the most common practices is the use of children as child domestics –especially girls.
Causes of child labour
Children are being used to make money for their families all over the world and this is a sad practice. For some, the excuse is that they need them to support the family. However, nothing justifies sending a child as little as 5 years old to work under unfavorable conditions.
Major causes of child labour are:
- widespread poverty
- rapid urbanisation
- breakdown in extended family afiliations
- high school drop out rates, and lack of enforcement of legal instruments meant to protect children.
Traditionally, children have worked with their families, but today children are forced to work for their own and their family’s survival. The money earned by child family members has become a significant part of poor families’ income.
Dangers of child labour
These children who work suffer from fatigue, irregular attendance at school, lack of comprehension and motivation, improper socialisation, exposure to risk of sexual abuse, high likelihood of being involved in crime.
Girls used as mode of payment in Obanliku, Cross river
There is a devastating cultural practice that needs to be abolished among the Becheve tribe in Obanliku Local Government Area, Cross River State. It is about “Money Woman” – a scheme where a family gives out their daughter to settle debts. Families take a loan of as low as N2,000. In some cases, tubers of yam, goats, pigs, and in exchange they give a daughter.
Sometimes, the girls are not even born yet when the loan is taken. When she is eventually born, she is given out in repayment of the loan. If the person she is given to dies before her, she is then passed on to his next of kin. An additional clause is that the “money woman” is to take care of herself; as nobody cares about her well being.
The story is a terrible one, and it is one of the many ways slavery has morphed itself into the 21st century. You can watch a short documentary by channels tv here.
Child labour is cloaked in many different forms. Let us play our part and take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.