CAMBODIA–GARBAGE PICKERS

The image of a young child working hard to earn money can be disturbing. Children are supposed to enjoy their childhood and live carefree lives. They are not supposed to miss out on these precious moments while struggling to earn money for a living while others make big cash with option robot.

Child labor is illegal in many countries around the world, including India. In spite of having rules to protect them, implementation of this rule has rarely worked in the favor of children. They continue to be employed in various industries and unfortunately the issue of child labor is a global one.

Here we look at some business where children continue to be used for labor:

Diamond industry:

India has been a leading global name when it comes to the diamond polishing industry. It is also a major supplier of precious stones such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Small units do the processing work of these diamonds and each of them employs few workers. There is no big operator who handles this operation.

Parents prefer sending their children to work in these units as they find educating their children expensive. They also feel that unlike a good education, working in a polishing unit will help them earn much more as they grow up.

Manufacture of fireworks:

One of the most dangerous industries where child labor has been prevalent for a long time is the industry of manufacturing fireworks. Most of these factories are not registered and they do not follow safe operating practices.

Children are made to work for long hours in unsafe conditions and given low wages. They have long and tiring schedules. Children are also made to work in factories that manufacture matchsticks and incense sticks. Since most of these factories are in the unorganized sector, it is difficult to track and take action against them.

Manufacture of silk:

Working in the silk industry can be dangerous for adults and more so for children. There have been reports that children aged around five years have been hired in this industry. They are made to work for six to seven days a week, and up to twelve hours every day.

Children are paid minimum wages and they are made to dip their hands in extremely hot water to get the silk. This process is used to check for palpation of the cocoons. What is most disturbing is that there have been reports where children were found to be bonded labor.

Weaving of carpets:

Carpets and their exports can be a good source of revenue for their manufacturers. However this industry is well known for employing child labor. A significant number of carpets made in India were found to be manufactured using child labor.

Domestic labor:

In spite of strict government policies that have banned employing children as domestic workers or in restaurants, it is a problem, which needs to be addressed consistently. Employing children to work in roadside eateries, spas, hotels and resorts is banned as well.

Child labor does not allow children to attend school and it is detrimental to their physical and mental development. Poverty and lack of good schools for children are the main causes of child labor. Whether you are the owner of a small business or a global brand, you must ensure that children all over the world are given an opportunity to develop to their full potential. This will only happen by pledging to fight against child labor.

Jon Warren, Photographer

© Jon Warren/The Photo Project

Children ride on a front loader. The children of the Phou family scavenge in the dump almost every day to earn money for school fees and to supplement the family’s meager budget. Their father, who worked as a garbage truck worker, lost his job when malaria made him miss 3 days of work. The boys are able to earn about $0.35 each for several hours of work.