Child Labour

Introduction to Human Trafficking

Human trafficking refers to the process or act of recruiting and transferring people form one region to another, usually by force and purposely to exploit or take advantage of them.  For many years, human trafficking ahs involves transportation of men, women and children from one region to another, usually from their home countries to foreign countries so that they may be forced to work under strict and conditional terms.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, approximates that more than five million children are trafficked annually, often form less developed and poor countries to developing and more developed and rich countries (McCabe, 2008). In the recent past, most people have been trafficked from various parts in Africa such as DRC Congo to Middle East countries like Qatar where they are forced to work.

Introduction to Child Labour

Child labour refers to employment of under-aged children in various sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, service and agricultural industries. Children are often sought after by employers because they are usually paid low wages and do not have the capacity the fight for their own rights, for example, poor working terms or unsafe workplaces. Most employers would prefer child labour to adult labour due to its low cost. In most countries, illegally employing children to work is a criminal act that is prosecutable under both national and international laws.

According to Gorovitz, one in every five children aged between five and fifteen years is involved in child labour in developing countries today (2008). United Nations Children’s Fund and International Labour Organization (ILO) further estimate that more than two million children are trafficked to foreign countries each year where they work in mineral mines, agricultural plantations, manufacturing firms, non-State armies and commercial sex. Furthermore, more than thirty five percent of children in developing countries are actively engaged in child labour (International Labour Office et al., 2010).

History of Child Labour

The history of child labour dates back to the eighteenth century during the Industrial Revolution. When power-driven machines emerged as alternative equipment for manufacturing products, especially in England and United States of America, factory owners opted for cheap labour that was easily sourced from children. According to Levine, factory owners found it cheaper to employ children than to employ adults who demanded better wages (2007). The power-driven machines did not require any special skills or expertise and hence could be operated by children as well.

Similarly, children were employed in agricultural plantations. Between 1800 and 1820 the number of children working in farms and manufacturing factories increased by approximately twenty percent (Mintz, 2004). Worse still, children as young as eight years were found working in dangerous underground mines. Such children never had time to go to school and often fell sick. Humphries states that most of such children came from poor families (2010).

Child labour is often caused by poverty. Children would prefer to work so that they can earn a living. In some cases, children may be forced to work against their wills after they have been trafficked and transported to foreign countries.

Combating Child Labour

In 1818, numerous labour groups and human rights activists infuriated by child labour condemned the act with great cruelty. Church leaders, parents and teachers called for quick reforms to help save children form child labour. According to Levine, Charles Dickens was the first person to publicly declare the evils of child labour (2007). By 1878, a series of laws were formed by United States Federal Government and British government to curb child labour. In 1900, more than thirty States in US had passed laws to regulate child labour in their respective territories. In 1905, the Federal Government formed the National Child Labour Committee. This organization was mandated with eradication of child labour through formulation of rules and regulations to govern employment of children as well as implementation of Child Labour Laws and other related Acts enacted by the US Congress.

Moreover, various challenges have been faced in enacting child labour laws. For example, in 1922, the US Supreme Court declared two child labour laws that were passed the Congress unconstitutional. Similarly, in 1940, the US Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution to rule out child labour but most States failed to endorse and approve it. In my opinion, these were great setbacks to the efforts made in combating and controlling child labour.

I would recommend governments to create more employment opportunities for parents and youths so as to reduce child labour. Stringent measures should also be taken against those who employ children.

International Laws Prohibiting Child Labour

Various Laws have been adopted by the international community to curb child labour, for example, the Minimum Age Convention of 1973 and Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention of 1999. The International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted the Minimum Age Convention of 1973 to legally bind all countries that have endorsed it to ensure that the minimum age set for employment of persons is adhered to by employers in such countries. The convention seeks to abolish child labour in member countries. According to the requirements of the convention, a person may be employed only if he or she has fully developed both physically and mentally. The Minimum Age Convention sets 15 years as the recommendable age for employment.

Furthermore, a person becomes eligible for employment only after attaining or completing basic education. On the other hand, the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention calls for harsh measures to proscribe and forbid worst forms of child labour. According to the convention, worst forms of child labour includes slavery of children, forcing to work, child trafficking and involvement of children in activities that may cause harm to their health or threaten their safety (United States, 2009). For example, children are not allowed to be involved in prostitution or pornography.

US Child Labour Laws

In US, any person below eighteen years is subjected to Federal Law Provisions that protect individuals from child labour. After reaching 18 years, an individual becomes free to make his or her own decisions pertaining to employment opportunities in the job market. According to the Federal Government’s Child Labour Laws, youths who are between ages sixteen and seventeen may be employed in occupations that are not considered hazardous by the secretary of labour.

However, such youths cannot be employed in occupations that have been declared dangerous by the Secretary of Labour. For example, they are not allowed to operate power driven machines such as meat slicers used in food processing industries as well as commercial mixers. For school going children aged between fourteen and fifteen years, their working hours is limited to eighteen hours per week during school days and forty hours per week during non-school days. These children may be employed in small hotels, food kiosks and restaurants and quick services businesses to do a variety of light jobs for limited hours per day, usually three hours. The children must under specific conditions and strict supervision.

Furthermore, the United States Tariff Act of 1973 makes illegal the importation of goods and services that are alleged to have been through use of forced labour into the United States’ markets. In August 1999, amendments were made to the Act to make clear that forced labour also includes child labour.

General Laws

In general, children are allowed by the Federal Laws to help their parents in carrying out family business activities. However, they are not permitted to work in mineral mines or manufacturing firms owned by their families or any other establishments declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labour (United States, 2009).

Furthermore, employers are also allowed to pay minors a minimum low wage for a period not exceeding ninety working days after which their wages should be normalized with other workers. Workers who have reached eighteen years are required to produce valid Employment Certificates in order to be legally employed.

Child Labour Case Studies

Case I: Child Labour in Production of Footballs

Various children have been involved in child labour in production of football products in Sialkot, Pakistan. This case study involved more than sixty manufacturers of football products in the Pakistan region. The manufactures were driven and motivated by cheap labour which could be easily sourced from children. There have been increase in demand for football products and hence manufacturers wanted to increase their productions so that they could meet the market demands.

The issues were first reported by the media in 1994 during the World Cup. It was alleged that the footballs that were used during the 1994 World Cup were manufactured by children. Nike Corporation was accused of being the greatest employer of children. Reports revealed that more than five children aged between four and thirteen years were employed by the company. Based on these allegations, various investigations were carried out and it was found out that most manufactures such as Nike Corporation actually employed children in their industries.

Consequently, the government took appropriate measures to curb the vice. For example, various executives of Nike Corporation were arrested and interrogated over the matter. Furthermore, stringent legislations were formulated to reduce employment of children in industries. Nike Corporation in addition to other manufacturers in the football industry was charged with child labour.

Case II: Young Boy Employed As Trainer of Horses in Dubai

This case study involves employment of a young boy called Abdul Jasur who was forced to train horses in Dubai. The child was also involved in racing of horses in Dubai for approximately four and a half years. The employer is believed to have trafficked Abdul to Dubai in pretence of giving him a better permanent employment. However, when they reached Dubai, the boy was forced to train horses for racing. To ensure that the young boy, Abdul Jasur, does not keep in touch with his relatives back home in United Arab Emirates, he took his mobile phone. Reliable sources disclosed that the perpetrator was later arrested by Dubai police, arraigned in court and charged with child employment and forced labour offences.

Case III: Recruitment of Children in Armies

All over the world, especially in countries that have been experiencing persistent conflicts and political rebellions, thousands of children are recruited into rebellion armies. In 2009, nearly half a million children were recruited as solders in conflict regions, especially Central and Western Africa. For example, it was reported that nearly two hundred thousand children were recruited as child soldiers in DRC Congo and in Uganda’s Lords Resistant Army. Additionally, in Middle East countries such as Iraq, Qatar and Iran more than two million children have been recruited as solders in non-state armies. Child soldiers are often recruitment through forceful capture into the armies. Children are mostly targeted as soldier by resistant armies because they do not need any formal payment. The perpetrators are rival groups, terrorist organizations as well as rebellious political parties that cause wars and political instabilities in their countries. In most countries, those who recruit children into armies are charge in courts and jailed.


Although there are numerous laws that regulate and bar child labour, this evil act still prevails within our societies. Moreover, most laws regulate only a few works with dangerous working conditions that are considered hazardous to the child’s health and safety. Some kinds of work are not adequately regulated. Consequently, most of the areas where child labour is prevalent remain unregulated and thus giving room for continuous employment of children. Additionally, some laws recommend improve improvement of the working conditions other than totally banning child employment. From my part, this would still encourage child employment.

Last but not least, child labour is an exploitative practice that should be highly condemned in the society. It denies children opportunities for personal growth and developments.  It is an abuse to children’s human rights. Through child labour, most children are unable to have equal access to basic education.

Furthermore, children who are employed illegally are often overworked or forced to perform stressful tasks such as handling dangerous chemicals. This results into poor health and trauma. Similarly, children who are involved in immoral practices such as prostitution and pornography often risk contracting sexually transmitted disease such as HIV/AIDS. I would finish off by asserting that child labour is a great evil to humanity.

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