Entries by CLC Contributor

CHILD LABOR IN DOMESTIC WORK

 By Sharon L. Fawcett, CLC Contributing Writer “I clean the floor many times in a day. When it is not well done, my employer throws the dirty water at my face.” This is how girl from Togo describes her experience with child labor to Anti-Slavery International (ASI) researchers. She is a child domestic worker, enduring her employer’s abuse. The International Labour Organization estimates that 15.5 million children around the world are involved in domestic work in a home other than their own; 10.5 million of these children are involved in child labor as they are either under the legal minimum working age, or employed in hazardous conditions or conditions akin to slavery.In 2008, 61 percent of children in domestic labor were between 5 and 14 years of age; one-third were under age 12. Seventy-three percent of children engaged in domestic work are girls. Child domestic labor is one of the most widespread and exploitative forms of child labor in the world. Child domestic workers help with the day-to-day tasks of running a household. These may include cooking, cleaning, caring for children or the elderly, gardening, running errands, and other tasks, as well as selling goods in the marketplace and on the street.These children may live with their employers or separately from them; they may receive financial remuneration for their work […]

Niger’s Wahayu Endure Domestic and Sexual Enslavement

By Sharon L. Fawcett, CLC Contributing Writer Niger’s Tahoua region has a history of enslavement dating back to the early 18th-century arrival of the Touaregs, who brought slavery-like practices with them. Today, young girls and women sold as domestic and sexual servants are the victims of this centuries-old scourge. Although the Nigerien government has maintained, since 2005, that slavery no longer exists in Niger, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL’s) 2013 Trafficking in Persons report and a joint report by UK-based non-governmental organization Anti-Slavery International and Niger-based Timidria, suggest otherwise. According to these reports, it is not uncommon for Nigerien girls to become the victims of human trafficking and forced labor. In Niger, a girl born into slavery can be sold by her master as a wahaya (plural: wahayu) or “fifth wife” to a wealthy or powerful man in the country’s Tahoua region—or in northern Nigeria—for as little as $400 US (200,000 CFA). While owning a wahaya is a sign of affluence, wahayu “marriages” are illegitimate because they do not comply with several of the Islamic rules for marital unions. Since they are illegitimate wives, the women “wed” to men through this practice also bear the name “fifth wives”—not one of the four legitimate wives permitted by Islamic practises in a nation where Muslim is the predominant religion. A wahaya […]

Safe Foreign Travels: Learn about the Dangers of Human Trafficking

International travel allows you to experience different cultures, but vacations that are meant to be carefree and fun pose some threats as well. Among these threats is the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. An estimated 5.5 million children are victims of human trafficking globally. Everyone, but especially young women, must stay alert when traveling abroad and make responsible, smart decisions to avoid falling victim to ruthless human traffickers. When traveling keep these tips in mind: Know the facts. Before you travel make sure you are informed about the prevalence of human trafficking. Find out information about who are most likely victims, what warning signs to look for, and what steps you can take if you find yourself in a precarious situation. Register with the local U.S. embassy. Know the address and telephone number of the embassy closest to where you are staying. Alert them of your travel plans and keep the contact information with you at all times. Find a full listing of U.S. embassies around the world here. Protect your passport: Do not give your passport to anyone to keep or hold on to. Make sure you keep a copy of your passport information in a safe place where only you can find it. Beware of strangers. Sex traffickers often seem harmless and might be well-dressed, […]

CHILD LABOR AND ENSLAVEMENT IN GHANA’S LAKE VOLTA FISHING INDUSTRY

By Sharon L. Fawcett, CLC Intern For a small sum of money, James Kofi Annan’s father handed him over to a child trafficker when he was just six years old. Born into a family in Ghana with 12 children, there was no money for school uniforms and books. So instead of gaining an academic education, James would learn the painful lessons of the enslaved, in Ghana’s fishing villages. Sold by his trafficker to a Lake Volta fisherman, James worked 17 hours per day, enduring constant physical and emotional abuse. When displeased, his master often withheld food, beat him with a paddle, or threw him in the lake. Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, was created by the construction of Ghana’s Askombo dam in the 1960s. Although the lake provided a bountiful supply of fish for many years, fish stocks have been declining in recent years, making it more difficult for fishermen to earn a living. Children provide a cheap source of labor and their tiny fingers prove useful for picking the fish that are captured in the nets’ webbing, as the holes get increasingly smaller to catch smaller fish.   The children trafficked to work in Ghana’s fishing industry as bonded laborers are as young as four years of age. Their tasks may include paddling boats, hauling […]

The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act) would help protect child farmworkers

Grecia Balli began working in farm fields when she was 10 years old. At age 14, she decided to drop out of school because her life as a migrant farmworker caused her to switch schools frequently, making it difficult for her to keep up academically. By age 17 she no longer dreamed of becoming a police officer, which had been her goal. Her life revolved around farm work. Grecia is one of an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 children who work in U.S. agriculture. Interviewed for “Fingers to the Bone,” a film by U. Roberto Romano and Human Rights Watch, Grecia said she felt as though she had no choices as a farmworker. “You don’t feel the same as other kids.” Child farmworkers aren’t treated the same as other children, either, under current U.S. labor laws. Seventy-five years after its passage, the antiquated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 continues to regulate child labor, but fails to provide children performing agricultural work with protections equal to those afforded other children. The FLSA restricts children younger than 16 years from working for more than three hours on a school day, but a loophole for the agricultural sector means children as young as 12 can legally work unlimited hours on farms before or after school, and children of any age can work […]

Child Labor Advocate Kailash Satyarthi on the Recent Landmark Indian Supreme Court Decision on Trafficking

With great pleasure, I share my joy and accomplishment with you. As I write to you, I am holding a copy of the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India that will have far reaching impact on the lives of millions of children. This historic judicial verdict was delivered on 10th May 2013 in response to a petition filed by my Indian organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) which is the key partner of Global March Against Child Labor. It is indeed a watershed moment not only in BBA’s three decade fight in restoring childhood but has also brought a fresh lease of hope for hundreds of thousands of missing children and their hapless parents, whose cries remained unheard due to the absence of legal protection and apathy of the enforcement machinery. Our argument that children do not disappear in thin air but go missing because of an organized nexus of traffickers and mafias has been finally upheld by the highest court of the land. India has a dubious distinction with one child going missing every ten minutes as per government records. Although the government admits that complaints for 90,654 missing children were received in 2011 but it was only 15,284 First Information Reports (FIRs) that were eventually registered by the police to investigate various crimes these children were victims […]

A 2005 survey by NCL found that 96% of those Americans surveyed would not let their own children work in the fields as hired farmworkers under 13–something allowed by current U.S. Child Labor law.