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246 Million Children Working During World Days For Children

November 29, 2002 · 

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19 November 2002 – Almost a quarter of a billion children are working as child labourers today during the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and will continue toiling tomorrow on Universal Children’s Day. Despite the world’s promise to care for every child, the scourge of child labour still leaves countless children deprived of their most basic rights.

These World Days should be marked with a renewed determination to protect the lives of all children. Governments must be called upon to meet the commitments in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the ILO Conventions on child labour. The international community must make the protection and development of children the first priority in aid programs. Businesses must stop using children to turn a quick profit. And above all, ordinary people, adults and children alike, must make it clear that the abuse of children as child labourers has no place in this world.

The commercial exploitation of children in both developing and developed countries has come to be recognised as the most common form of child abuse today. Subjected to physical, psychological and emotional abuse, child labourers are often trapped with no other options. Too often society simply accepts their labour as a harsh reality and turns a blind eye as the children suffer horrendous abuse.

“Do we consider ourselves civilised? Do we deserve to be called humanity when we take the youngest children and abuse them for profit and power?” asked Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March Against Child Labour. “Ending child labour must be the very top priority of the international community.”

The tens of millions of young girls working as servants in wealthy and middle class families are among the most exploited. Working from before dawn until late into the night, these girls are hidden behind closed doors and have no protection from the cruelty and lust of their absolute masters. And again society has accepted this practice as simply a way of life.

When the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989, there was great hope for a better future for all the world’s children. Despite a number of improvements for some, a great number of children have simply been left to fend for themselves.

Many wander the streets selling petty goods at all hours of the day, or work in unhealthy and hazardous factory environments providing cheap and easily manipulated labour in the manufacture of goods. Others are indentured servants – little more than slaves – in back breaking labour on farms. Still others are forced into prostitution or to fight wars for guerrilla or even government forces. Many are not free to leave. Almost all are deprived of their right to receive a quality education.

For these children, their life prospects are bleak. They will not have the chance to develop their potential and in later life will be unable to find decent work. They will be confined to the most degrading and exploitative work, in conditions so hazardous that they will likely not live long lives. This fate they may pass on to their own children – perpetuating a cycle of poverty and misery that afflicts so many today.

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For more information, please contact:
Global March Against Child Labour
L-6 Kalkaji, New Delhi-19, INDIA
Phone: (91 11) 622 4899, 647 5481
Fax: (91 11) 623 6818
E-mail: yatra@del2.vsnl.net.in, childhood@globalmarch.org
Website: www.globalmarch.org

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