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Hear our cry: children demand

The majority of the states of countries believe that the assistance in form of cash to the poor who face probable risk of falling into poverty in the absence of transfer which is not subject to any conditions is a significant origin of child labor in as much as they restrain the state of being poor.

The overwhelming prevalence of child labor globally continues to be a matter of concern.

(Nthatisi E Metsing2020, p.4) declares that poverty has always stood amongst many reasons of child labor other reasons may be limited access to quality education thus influencing most parents to accept money and force their children into working at an early age. In attempt to help their ailing families’ children are bound to engage in labor activities as either their sole providers or contributors to the little household income. Resultantly, a vast majority of children are found working within hazardous and unregulated informal sectors; comprising of street vendors, domestic workers working on farms and caring for livestock in Lesotho to state but the   least.

Due to lack of official regulation of the informal sector children are then exposed to abuse, exploitation and violation with little to no protection. Child labor is particularly exploitative and of a hazardous nature in Sub Saharan Africa due to the region’s unique socio economic, cultural, and development circumstances. Africa is characterized by frequent natural disasters, and conflicts, famine and hunger, all of which are fertile grounds for child labor. Schooling, which is believed to be the best alternative to child labor is also not widespread in Sub Saharan Africa and has the lowest school enrolment ratios.

Child labor may have diverse causes stemming from cultural, historical, social and economic circumstances. It is sometimes perceived as unavoidable and a necessary part of the child’s socialization process. (Jensen and Nielsen 1997, p.3) states that elevated poverty can force families to send their children to work, thereby preventing the children from investing fully in their studies. (Ray 2000);  (Murkjehee and Das (2008); Kim (2011,p.3)states that the poor quality of the educational system and the low salaries and poor working conditions of the teachers are also noted as other socio-economic factors that leave families with no other option but to force children to work.( Dane 2003,p.3) states that   Other  aspects   that are not strictly economic, such as the educational level of parents, the number of people that live in a home, the birth year of each child or the existence of polygamy. (Pedraza and Ribero 2006, p.3) state that when the head of the family was a mother, the children were exclusively dedicated to studying, unlike those cases in which the head was the father.

( Amar 2008, p.4) expresses that child generates negative effects that hinder the child’s cognitive, emotional and social development.( Omokhodion and Odusote 2006,p.4) explains that  many of these child laborers are in a critical period of their psychological development during which key aspects of their personality and social behavior, such as self-esteem and self-concept, are being molded and defined. Amar still states that child labor generates negative consequences on the quality of life and on the mental health of minors. He also found that in addition to the perception of poor physical health, child laborers presented greater emotional war.

Furthermore, the minors who participated in child labor perceived that their physical and emotional health interfered to a greater extent in the functioning of the family and their health was an obstacle to their development. (O’Donnell, Van Doorslaer and Rosati 2002, p.4) remarks that children are much more vulnerable than adults to the psychological and physical impact of labor, due to their psychophysiological immaturity and the process of growth and development in which they are immersed. Social and economic problems of child labor have also been identified. (Beegle 2007, p.5) mentions that child labor does not only have immediate and short-term effects in the child, but rather, these effects are also present in the long-term throughout the whole life-cycle.

Taking on labor-related activities at an early age reduces work opportunities during adulthood. Hinders the achievement of an adequate educational level, and even impedes the formation of a stable family unit. (Dyer 2007, p.5) states that child labor makes the educational system difficult given that the time for work takes away from the time allocated for studies and that the attention to academic activities is reduced due to the fatigue produced by the labor. Child labor can slow down long run growth and social development through reduced human capital accumulation. It dampers future economic growth and depresses current growth by reducing unskilled wages and discouraging the adoption of skill-intensive technologies. UNICEF works to prevent and respond to child labor, especially by strengthening the social service workforce. Social service workers play a role in recognizing, preventing and managing risks that can lead to child labor.

In response to the incidents of child labor, several treaties and conventions aimed at protecting the rights of children and ultimately eradicating child labor have been adopted by both international and regional communities. These include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Labor Organization Conventions on child labor, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which prohibits and seek to eliminate child labor by 2025, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child among others.

The endorsement and domestication of these treaties have been evident in many African countries including the Kingdom of Lesotho through the enactment of laws and adoption of policies aimed at promoting the rights of children and protecting children against harmful practices such as child labor. Children’s rights are protected under law in Lesotho. In order to end child labor there has been immediate actions taken into consideration such as to stop hiring children below the minimum age because it is unacceptable for a business to employ children. Companies of all sizes need to ensure that they do not use child labor anywhere in their operations.

Removing children from hazardous work because it has long-term effect on them such as; injury, ill health, disability and even death. Using the link between labor inspection and the workplace occupational safety and health committee plays a role in eliminating child labor. They work under the authorization of the state and have access to workplaces where child can be found. They can effectively enforce national labor legislation, providing advice and information to help employees meet legal requirements by checking if the creation of safety and health committees is a legal requirement in a country, check if labor inspectorates in a country organize and conduct training for safety and health committee members an apply the labor inspection recommendations on safety and health.

The collective bargaining agreements are important tools which can be used to address child labor. They cover all negotiations between an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organizations and one or more workers’ organizations with the following objectives; determining working conditions and terms of employment, including wages and benefits; managing relations between employers and workers; managing relations between employers or their organizations and a workers’ organization or workers’ organizations. Through collective bargaining agreements the trade unions and employers may agree to work jointly to eliminate hazardous child labor from the business.

Essay by Maseru team led by Ayesha Ahmed

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