CHILDREN & THE LAW: “CHILD LABOUR”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In our quest to understand the question of ‘Child Labour’, we will be obliged to define and describe the followings – 1).what is ‘Child Labour’? 2). what are the causes of ‘Child Labour’? 3). what are the effects of ‘Child Labour’? Finally, and the fourth one for that matter 4). How to stop ‘child labour’. Did you know that over 48 million are child laborers, out which 6.15 million are in bondage, technically slaves or in slavery? 

What is ‘Child Labour’? 

Child Labour is a business or commercial term which means to employ children at work below the threshold age that has been demarcated by the government.

Better still, is the employment of children in an industry or business especially when it is illegal or considered exploitative.

According to International Labour Organization (ILO), the term ‘Child Labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children’s’ wellbeing.

If we go by the Children’s Act 2005, it states that no one shall engage a child in exploitative labour, and it when further to define exploitative labour, “Labour is exploitative if it deprives the child of his or her health, education or development”.

It even states that no one shall engage a child in night work. According to the rules, night work means work between the hours of eight o’clock in the evening and six o’clock in the morning.

Our Act is so generous to the children that, it even differentiate light work from hazardous work. By virtue of Section 43 – “The minimum age for the engagement of a child in light work is sixteen years. The law states that “Light work means work, which is not likely to be harmful to the health or development of the child and does not affect the child’s attendance at school or the capacity of the child to benefit from school work”.

On the reverse, work is hazardous when it poses a danger to the health, safety or morals of a child. Thus hazardous work includes:-

a) going to sea;

b) mining and quarrying;

c) carrying of heavy loads’

d) work in manufacturing industries where chemicals are produced or used; and

e) work in places where machines are used; and

f) work in places such as bars, hotels, and places of entertainment where a child may be exposed to immoral behavior.

What are the causes of ‘Child Labour’?

Extreme poverty;

Uneducated parents/people;

High population density; and

Sometimes greediness of some parents, and also increasing demand for child labour due to the compatibility nature of their body structure required for hazardous and exploitative work area like coal mines are the main cause of child labour.

The global, world economy is also a factor. Could you imagine we spend billions of dollars a year on unnecessary things, like 14 billion dollars on cruises, 18 billion dollars a year on makeup, 40 billion dollars a year on golf, and if you talk about the English Premiership, the average salary of all 20 English top flight teams combined is £2.44 million per year, that almost double that of Laliga’s £1.24 million per year. Yet politicians claimed that the world wouldn’t be able to scrape up the 12 billion it would cost to set up schools in impoverished places that need it the most being Africa or Asia the hardest hit. Courtesy of https://talksport.com

What are the effects of ‘Child Labour’?

Children are getting affected physically, mentally, socially, and morally due to this unacceptable crime called “child labour”. It has targeted many countries including The Gambia, in the form of undeveloped economic structure which has resulted in extreme poverty, illiteracy, high population, corruption, unemployment, criminal enterprises and activities, etc.

How to stop ‘Child Labour’?

Country’s economic development can completely eliminate this major issues of child labour as in financially developed country, there would be no unemployment issues for their parents and availability of required education centers, etc. A well-integrated child development schemes/services will avert the trend of child labour, and also NGOs like Child Fund are also working to prevent child labour. The application of section 30 (a) of the 1997 Constitution – Right to Education – can also go a long way to halt child labour in The Gambia, and it states:-

“Basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all;”

At this juncture, it will serves as a healthy reminder to look at the lawsand penalties about ‘child labour’ in The Gambia:

Though, many Rules and Actsare being formed and implemented time to time by the government to prohibit the child labour or slavery, among them include the establishment of a ‘Social Welfare Department, a ‘Child Welfare Unit’ in The Gambia Police Force, and the Children’s Act itself, but still this evil is not banned completely in our country. As according to the Children’s Act 2005, the minimum age for engagement of a child in light work is sixteen years – as per section 43, and the Act did not even put an age limit to hazardous work, but instead banned it completely as mentioned earlier by virtue of section 44 of the Act.

For this major crime, penalty for offenders as per section 47 of the Children’s Act 2005 - “A person who contravenes the provisions of this Heading (Exploitative Labour) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dalasis or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both the fine and imprisonment”.It is also important, to know that sections 44 of the Children’s Act got its legal basis from the 1997 Constitution, pursuant to Section 29 (2), - Rights of children- and it reads:-

“Children under the age of sixteen years are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation and shall not be employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with their education or be harmful to their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development”.

Conclusion

Each and every citizen and every one of us is responsible for this crime ‘child labour’ either those of us who are taking direct benefit of labour work for less pay or those who are ignoring working children or you who is patronizing the companies who are exploiting child bonded labour.

Did you know that the chances are, you are wearing a product of a child’s hand/labour

Those designer cloths; the textile industries; the jewelry; the beautiful cars you drive around, and even your best supermarket food and beverages you name it.

This must be put to a stop. Until we all understand the harmful and dangerous effects of child labour, we cannot get rid of this menace. The few humble recommendations are:-

Firstly, parents should change their thinking, and attitude about the importance of education.

Secondly, we should all avoid child labour in our domestic households or work area, and if we found the crime happening anywhere, we should take the necessary steps to stop it. In fact according to rule 75 (1) of the Children’s Act – a person with information on – a child abuse; or – a child in need of care and protection, shall report the matter to the Department or the nearest Police Station, and (2) went further to state that the Department and the Police have no right to divulge the identity of the person who makes a report to them.My takeaway for everyone: is if you see something, say something. All of us can do it, but I can guarantee that not many of us will do it.

Now that we have examined why child labour should be prohibited, try to take a course of action against it. Imaging if everyone made it one of their priorities to help stop child labour; thinking about banning child labour doesn’t help anyone. Try to take the next step/action to ban child labour, should there be child labour in your area?

We are the children of this generation, and our children are our heritage. We must speak up for our peers. Because childhood is a one-time opportunity, it hasto be cherished.

God Bless.


Author: Kawsu Jadama. (I.A.C.R) Volunteer.
Source: Picture: Kawsu Jadama