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AFT News Release: AFT and Jamaica Teachers’ Association Launch Anti-Trafficking Project

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica—As the number of reported cases of child trafficking increases exponentially in Jamaica and in the United States, the American Federation of Teachers and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association announced today a joint anti-trafficking project to address the issue in both countries.

The pilot project—drawing on materials to be developed by the AFT and the JTA, non-governmental organizations, governments, community groups and others—will raise awareness among students about the dangers of trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation, will provide educators with resources to identify children who might be at risk, and will harness community resources to try to protect those children and advocate in schools, government agencies, legislative bodies and other venues on behalf of survivors on behalf of survivors.

The International Labor Organization estimates there are nearly 5.5 million children worldwide involved in trafficking. A recent study found that from 2006-2010, 4,870 children in Jamaica were reported missing—70 percent of them girls. Nearly 60 percent did not return home. The U.S. State Department, the ILO and Amnesty International have found that trafficking of children from rural areas into tourist areas for sexual exploitation is a serious problem in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that as many as 300,000 U.S. children are at risk of being trafficked.

“Teachers have a powerful role to play in ensuring their students are safe,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten after speaking at the JTA’s annual conference. “With the materials that we develop for educators and other school staff, we can help empower students to try to avoid dangerous situations and we can help connect children in need to available services in their community.”… Read the rest

Child Labor Horror – 16,000 being Forced to Work in Jamaica

Jamaica’s child labourers mainly boys 15-17

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

AT least 16,000 Jamaican children are being forced to engage in some form of economic activity, even as the Government tries to stem the problem through work with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Marva Ximinnies, director of the Child Labour Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, said of the 16,000 child labourers, just over 7,000 are engaged in more hazardous work — which includes prostitution, the production of pornographic material and child slavery. This information, she explained, was taken from the last official survey that the ministry relies on for its data.

The majority of Jamaica’s child workers are found in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, while there have been prosecutions of persons who involve children in prostitution, she said. Other workers include street children and market vendors in the larger metropolitan areas of Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay.

Jamaica’s child labourers are predominantly male, aged 15-17 years.

“Over 60 per cent of the children involved in child labour are usually found to be working in the agricultural sector. There were also children found to be working in manufacturing, construction and installation, while in wholesales and restaurants, a little over 4,000 were found to be working in those particular sectors,” Ximinnies said last week while addressing the Kiwanis Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.

“We have prosecuted and convicted persons trying to solicit children for prostitution,” Ximinnies explained.… Read the rest

Law Preventing Move Against Child Labor

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Features editor – Sunday thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com

from the Jamaica Observer

A law that gives labour inspectors the authority to survey established work places and not the informal sector is preventing the Ministry of Labour from effectively curbing child labour.

According to director of the ministry’s Child Labour Unit, Marva Ximinnies, of the near 3,000 inspections it conducted in the financial year just ended, it identified no incidents of child labour in Jamaica. Read more