Florence, a 13-year-old doing child labour in Uganda, said, “I started working because we were very badly affected.” It was more difficult to sit at home hungry and wait.”
Ground Report | New Delhi: Child labour is such a curse for the society that is ruining the lives of the coming breeds. At the age at which children should play and study, they are forced to do wages. The problem is not present today, it has been going on for years. Which has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Recently, a new report ‘I Must Work to Eat’ released by Human Right Watch has revealed that the epidemic in Nepal, Ghana and Uganda has not only made children labourers, but also forced them to do such work which is harmful to their health. Even after many hours of hard work they has been being given very low wages. Although this report is based on studies done on children from only three countries, it has once again exposed the bitter truth of our society, which shows that even today children are being exploited all over the world.
Another report released by ILO and UNICEF feared that the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 virus would push millions of children into child labour marshes, which could lead to a bleak future. This phenomenon of working more when wages fall has been documented elsewhere, including in India.
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According to the report, the economic crisis caused by covid-19 has forced children to do child labour. Also, the closure of schools and lack of adequate government support has also increased their numbers.
To understand this, researchers have also interviewed 81 children working in Ghana, Nepal and Uganda. Some of these children were just eight years old. These children are engaged in works such as brick kilns, carpet making factories, gold and stone quarries, fisheries and agriculture. While some mechanics were engaged in rickshaw drivers or construction work, some sold goods on the roads.
Most of these children believed that the epidemic and the lockdown it caused had severely affected their family income. His parents have lost their jobs, businesses have been shut down, restrictions on transport have lost access to markets. Also due to the economic downturn there are no customers. There were many of these children who are working as labourers for the first time. Some said that they have decided to work because their family did not have enough food. At the same time, after putting in some work, they continued to work even after the situation became normal.
According to the report the COVID-19 crisis is causing an unprecedented drop-off in economic activity and working time.15 Global working hours fell in the first quarter of 2020 by an estimated 4.5 per cent compared to the final quarter of 2019. This adds up to approximately 130 million full-time jobs, assuming a 48-hour work week. Global working hours in the second quarter are expected to be 10.5 per cent lower, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs.
Report further reads, most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to reduce the spread of cOVID-19. School closures have affected more than 90 per cent of total enrolled learners, or about 1.6 billion students. Many schools have moved online with distance learning, but nearly half the world has no access to the Internet, leaving many students even further behind. Besides education benefits, schools provide critical social protection resources for children and their families. Closure thus raises many concerns around vulnerability.
“The rising number of deaths from COVID-19 is trailed by growing numbers of children left without one or both parents as well as other caregivers such as grandparents. Children deprived of family care are particularly vulnerable to child labour, trafficking and other forms of exploitation”.
In 2000, about 24.6 crore children were doing child labour. This number had come down to 15.2 crores in 2017. Which means that during these 17 years, about 94 million children were exempted from child labour, but in spite of this about 7.3 crore children were compelled to do such works, which are far more dangerous.