By Guest Writer
OPINION: On the 12th of June, the world holds the international “say no to child labor” event, which aims at raising awareness against all forms of child abuse and child labor.
This day has been observed annually since 2002 by the International Labor Organization. The day provides a great background to shed light on a daily and open act that people indulge in without any repercussions.
Child labor is a distressing reality that robs millions of children of their childhood, education, and overall well-being and rights.
“I want a young girl that is really easy to manage and can do housework. I have a little baby about 10 years old, so this girl should also be good with children,” says the woman as they send in for housemaids at home.
It is sad to say that this is a normal act in Uganda. Housemaids in homes are usually between the ages of 16 and lower. These children are often subjected to long hours of work in dangerous conditions, deprived of education, exposed to physical and emotional abuse, denied the opportunity to develop their full potential, and in some cases also never paid their little monthly pay.
What saddens more is that these children are sent to work mostly with the knowledge of their parents or very close relatives, with reasons like, “She should look for school fees; the parents are sick, so she should take care of her remaining siblings and get some money for the parents wellbeing.
As CICOA, we have witnessed child labor in the extractives industry, especially in gold mines, where they are exposed to dangerous substances like mercury, which exposes them to more grave health concerns like loss of sight and skin diseases. It affects their educational potential as it gives them false quick riches that never materialize.
We have seen how the sector also pushes children to the periphery when parents get compensation money from the government and big extractive companies, leaving children alone and fathers with new wives.
According to the Ugandan Constitution and Section 2 of the Children Act, as amended in 2016, a child is a person under the age of 18 years.
According to international law, “child’ means every human being below the age of 18 years. This is a universally accepted definition of a child and comes from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), an international legal instrument accepted and ratified by most countries.
However, even with this knowledge, the evil of child labor is as alive as ever before because of extreme poverty that pushes the parents and children into looking for alternative livelihood solutions. Children that would be in school are forced out because they too would like to make a change at home.
To effectively address child labor, it is crucial to tackle the underlying root causes: poverty, lack of social protection, inadequate access to education and healthcare, and discrimination.
The consequences of child labor are far-reaching and affect not only the individual child but also society as a whole. When children are forced into labor, they miss out on essential education, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
This impedes their ability to secure decent employment in the future, leading to the perpetuation of poverty across generations. Moreover, child labor hinders economic progress by suppressing wages, perpetuating unfair competition, and creating an exploitative work environment.
We have to reaffirm our commitment to protect the rights and well-being of every child. Eliminating child labor requires a collective effort combining legal measures, social programs, and educational initiatives. Governments, civil society organizations, and the international community should collaborate to address these issues comprehensively.
This includes promoting sustainable economic development, poverty reduction, social safety nets, and equitable access to education and healthcare.
By joining hands and working together, we can create a world where children are not exploited but cherished, empowered, and given the opportunity to thrive.
The author is Babirye Jemimah Kassibo, Advocacy Officer at Citizens Concern Africa.
Disclaimer: We, as UG Reports Media LTD, welcome any opinion by anyone if it’s of constructive use to the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not of UG Reports Media LTD but of the author of the article.
Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please share it with this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.