World Day Against Child Labour (12th June, 2018)

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Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. Many children are found working illegally in farms, fishing forestry, the retail, services restaurants, hotels, retail trade, transport and storage, domestic work includes house-keeping, cooking and childcare.

Children are usually subjected to work by their guardians or immediate family because of the following reasons;

  • Poverty and overpopulation
  • Lack of education
  • Culture demand for cheap labour then children became vulnerable
  • Obedience from children
  • Nimble finger – feeling that certain work can be performed better by children
  • Non existence of good and strong laws that guard against employing children
  • Low family income
  • Debts – especially parents debts
  • Illness and death in the family – when family members dies and leave young children without income for support, some are forced to work to survive
  • Gender stereotype – especially faced by girls
  • Inter – generalization – parents who worked when children my see this as a norm

Subjecting children to work usually causes a lot of harm to them such as;

  • They develop health problems - Rapid skeletal growth, development of organs and tissue, greater risk of hearing loss, developing ability to assess risks, greater need for food and rest, higher chemical absorption risk, smaller size, and lower heat tolerance
  • Mental health is affected
  • Create a negative notion of the nation
  • lack education since they have to spend most of their time working than being in school
  • mistreatment of these children by under payment

To bring this evil to an end all of us must participant by;

  1. Beginning with yourself – don’t employee children
  2. Creating and adopting laws that protect children against employment -Creating Stricter Laws for Child Labor
  3. Reducing poverty of the household
  4. Educating children
  5. Creating awareness - Be vigilant and report abuse
  6. Employees should be looked after properly i.e. provide adequate salary to sustain them
  7. Ethical consumerism – don’t buy product or goods from companies that employee children- Imposing Trading Sanctions and Consumer Boycotts
  8. Being alert, and ready to act/report those doing so.
  9. Donating  to charities - Donate your money to charities that help children to escape the trap of child labor - Volunteer with some pioneer movements /organisations working to eradicate child labour
  10. Providing Cash Incentives to  parents and guardians to enable them send their Children to School
  11. Talking to the parents of child labourers
  12. Being a well-informed voter
  13. Ensuring a child labour free community

The Kenyan law under the Employment Act, 2007, and the Children Act, defines a child in Kenya as a person below the age of 18 years. The Employment Act, Part VII provides for protection of children including protection from the worst forms of child labour. Section 56 prohibits employing a child below 13 years in any form of employment. It only allows employment of children from the ages of 13 to16 years for light work, and defines those of 16 to 18 as employable.

Child labour is defined as any situation where a child provides labour in exchange for salary or payment including:

  • Where a child’s labour is used for gain by any individual or institution whether or not the child benefits directly or indirectly.
  • Where a child provides labour as an assistant to another person and his/her labour is deemed to be the labour of that other person for the purposes of payment.
  • Where there is a written contract of service and the employee is a child.

The law provides for protection from child labour and armed conflict under The Children Act, No. 8 of 2001. Section 10, provides that every child shall be protected from:

  • Economic exploitation.
  • Any work that interferes with his/ her education, or is harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

European Union says Kenya has 1.9 million child labourers. Majority of them said to be in the Agriculture sector followed by the domestic sector that are between the ages of 13 to 16 years and are hired as house girls. It was noted that majority of the minors were lowly paid, over worked and sometimes sexually molested.

Children in Kenya engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in agriculture and commercial sexual exploitation. Kenya has yet to ratify the UN CRC Optional Protocol on the sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. In addition, the age gap between the compulsory education age and the minimum age for work leaves children vulnerable to child labor. The current laws are said to be lenient on those employing minors and its time to have them rectified.

Compiled by Grace Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library