Here we examine specific countries in which child labor is a problem.

Prostitution in Cambodia: ‘New law doesn’t protect me’

Guardian Weekly

By: Claire Colley

In March 2008, Cambodia saw the implementation of a new law entitled: Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. Aimed at offering protection to women in prostitution by making the selling of sex illegal, it has resulted in clean-up operations and police raids of red light areas. Women in prostitution are being arrested, reporting police brutality and imprisonment. It’s also resulted in decreased safety for women as brothels are closed down and women are forced into street work. Mei, a young prostitute in Phnom Penh, describes how she fell into prostitution and the horrific experiences she has had as a result of the new law

My name is Mei and I’m 19 years old. I live in Phnom Penh but I’m from a small village in Prey Veng province. I went to school when I was younger, but I had to leave to work in the rice fields when I was 13. My family is poor and when there is no food to eat, you have to do what you must to support them – as I’m the oldest it’s my responsibility. Read more

Mexican farms employ kids illegally, U.N. says

By Chris Hawley, USA TODAY

MEXICO CITY — Adriana Salgado, 10, spends her days in a field in northwestern Mexico, picking spinach, cabbage and other vegetables that fill American salad bowls.

Salgado attends school for one hour a day, and she doesn’t know how to read. Her 15-year-old sister, who works with her, can’t read either. Salgado had an 8-year-old brother, too, until he was crushed by a tractor while working in a tomato field last year in a case that garnered nationwide attention.

About 300,000 youngsters such as Salgado work illegally in Mexico’s fields, the United Nations Children’s Fund says. In some cases, child farm labor is used to produce goods that are exported to the USA. The practice persists despite harsh criticism from international groups, rules imposed by U.S. distributors and increasingly strident warnings from the Mexican government.

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Child Labor Horrors in Fashion Industry: “Hide the Shame” is the New Strategy (2007 Press Release)

Washington, DC, November 8, 2007 — With news last Friday that an additional 76 child slaves were rescued from Delhi’s embroidery dens, the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) has called for immediate and responsible action by brands and retailers to end child labor and trafficking of children, as well as forced labor, in their supply chain and sourcing. The Global March Against Child Labor (GMACL), for which the CLC serves as its North American coordinator, estimates that as many as 5,000-7,000 embroidery units may be operating in Delhi, with each unit employing between 25 and 30 children. Many of these children are victims of trafficking and bonded labor, a form of slavery.

Gap Inc. acknowledged on October 29, that one of its suppliers was using child slave labor. Children as young as 10 said they worked 16 hours a day for no pay, according to the British Observer newspaper’s investigation. The retailer issued a public statement and destroyed the products, which would have otherwise ended up on shelves at GapKids.

While Gap owned up to the problem, committed to correct it, and vowed to bring its suppliers into full compliance with its standards, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) reports that a cover-up is being attempted by some other companies doing business in India. In essence, ITGLWF is hearing from some suppliers that they are being pressured to eliminate any paper trail between retailers/brands and Indian subcontractors, who may or may not be using child labor.

“If this is occurring, and we obtain brand or retailer names, consumers will hear about it,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League and Co-Chair of the CLC.

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Afghanistan: Child Laborers Miss School, Face Spiral Of Poverty

by Ron Synovitz
An Afghan child on the streets of Kabul (RFE/RL)

June 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) — Hasib is a 12-year-old Afghan boy who spends his days working at a bicycle repair shop in Kabul. He says he considers himself lucky because he is learning a trade that he will have for life. But since he started the job at the age of nine, he has had to quit school. And he does not know how to read or write.

I’m fixing this bicycle, so I’ve just unscrewed these handlebars,” Hasib tells RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan. “I’ve been working here for the past three years. I had to learn how to do this work. My hands would get hurt very badly at first, until I learned how to do it. I got burned until I learned how. I had to work a lot to learn and become someone.”

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