Photographer : saswat @ flickr
Child labour is an act of injustice which must be eliminated. You may ask ‘What is child labour?’ Child labour is five year olds being tied to rug looms to keep them from running away, twelve year olds working on tobacco farms and innocent children being used as soldiers.
Each and everyday 218 million children, a number over ten times the population of Australia are forced to undertake intense labour. These children are merely five to seventeen years old. Day by day they are enchained to their duties and kept from an education, their human rights and often their loved ones. These children just like you or I are being abused and forced to work under unbearable conditions, in mines, with chemicals and dangerous machinery.
Around the world 18 percent of children between the ages of five and fourteen are working full-time and an additional 16.7 percent are working part-time. These children are no different from our brother and sisters. Why should they have to suffer this injustice? They do not deserve this treatment. Society has given these children an incredibly harsh sentence for a crime they did not commit.
Is this what we want for the future? To perpetuate the cycle of poverty within the life of millions of children. Together we as educated global citizens must take a stand against this. Children are being forced by poverty, political instability, discrimination and matters out of their own hand to work tirelessly to receive next to nothing.
While we are sitting in these warm classrooms, with privileges as far as the eye can see a child called Melse is working in a tiny room with 20 other children as weavers. He was trafficked from his hometown in Chencha, Ethiopia, three years ago. He does not receive wages for his hard labour but instead just enough food to keep him alive. His five siblings were also trafficked and he does not know their whereabouts. There are many other children like Melse, 218 million all over the world who are suffering as we speak.
These children are everywhere yet invisible, 1.2 million children are trafficked each year, 5.7 million are forced into slavery, 1.8 million are forced into prostitution and pornography and 300,000 are recruited as child soldiers, but they are nevertheless invisible. These children are toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of sweatshops, hidden from view in plantations. These children are so vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. We must put an end to this injustice, for all we know this could be our children tomorrow. We must take a stand. We must make a choice. We must eliminate child labour.
This article by Rena Wang from MLC School was the Year 9/10 Runner-up in What Matters? 2007—a writing competition, run by The Whitlam Institute, that gives year 5-12 students in NSW and ACT a chance to say what matters in society today. For more information go to: http://www.whitlam.org/whitlam/index.php