Geographical Atlas of Child Labour Around The World
There are 1,5 billion children living in the world who are in the age range of 5-17 according to the offiicial numbers. Among them 317 million are engagaed in economic activity while 217 million are considered as child workers. 126 million child workers fall in the category of “Hazardous Labour” and 8 million children fall in the category of “Worst Forms of Child Labour” which means they act in prostitution, sell drugs, become a part of crime rings, involve in armed conflict, perform in pornography and get trafficked.
The majority of working children are engaged in agriculture, fishing and hunting. While some children are helping their families, most of them are working in commercial agricultural farms under unhuman and dangereous conditions. Nearly everywhere in the world child labourers can be seen working in very hazardous conditions on agricultural lands. Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria are the main countries producing world”s 85% of cacao. Cacao is processed and used by giant firms in the world and is a main ingredient in chocolates, cakes and many different food products. However, cocoa beans are harvested by child workers who are bought from their families for 8-19 USD and traffficked to the cocoa producing countries and sold to the farms for 300-400 USD. While some of the lucky children enjoy eating chocolates, many of them work under slavery conditions who are only 7-8 years old producing cocoa so that the others can enjoy.
A huge number of children are working as domestic servants. Videmegons in Benin, Restaveks in Haiti, Amegbonovei in Togo-children traditionally working as domestic servants- share all the same fate. Both Videmegon and Restaveks mean exactly the same situation in different parts of the world. These children are either bought from their families or offered to support their school finances in return for their labour at houses. Which ever the case is these children end-up working like slaves. Nearly all them face violance and sexual abuse at home. As a consequence they run away from their homes and carry an important risk in becoming a prostitute. In Togo, according to an old tradition called “Trokosi”, children are given to priests in return for the sins.
Children working in mines also face hazordous conditions. Most of them are forced to work in such inapproparite situations. In Africa, Soth America, and other regions, children mine the most precious gems in the world and what is left to children from gems mined that worths billions of dollars is just “”tears and sweat””. The Snake Children in Tanzania, place explosives in narrow passages in underground mines. The valubale stones mined in Africa and South America are sold in return for rifles and guns. The share of children from this trade are bullets killing them, wounding them and orphaning them. Many children are used as soldiers where many of them either die or loose their legs, eyes and organs.
Child prostitution, is phenomenon which can be seen through out the whole world in every single country no matter rich or poor. ILO estimates 1,8 million children in the world are engaged in prostitution. (Here it would be more appropriate to say that children are forced to become prostitutes). In reality this number should be multiplied by 50 at least. Ex-Soviet Republics supply a huge amount of number into the sector. Most of these girls are trafficked by crime rings where they are deceived by the hope that they will be living a luxurious life. After they are trafficked to the destination country their passports are confiscated and then they are forced to work as sex slaves where they are sold to thousands of customers just in a years time. Even if they are not trafficked, ones that are working in their home countries also share the same fate once they are trapped in this vicious cycle and forced to work until they worth nothing. Every year it is also estimated that 5 million tourists run to Far East and Thailand for sex. They bring more than 25 billion dollars worth of cash to these countries. This is nearly 10 times more than the electronics export receipt of Thailand which is highly praised.
Girls that are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation are sold to pimps ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 dollars. It is known that a very ordinary house employing 20 girls as prostitutes makes a profit no less than 1 million dollars every year. Therefore, child prostitution can not be a sector where there are only 1,8 million girls are involved. Girls are that forced to work in unhuman conditions as sex slaves generate billions of dollars and the profit is distributed among the leaders of the crime rings.
Child Soldiers are a big army that has 300,000 members. As these figures depend on the ILO data i think the reality must be a lot different than this figure implies. Angola, Brundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Gine, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Uganda, and Rwanda are countries that are known to have child soldiers. The civil and armed conflicts in these countries are the main reasons why child soldiers exist. The crutial question is while these countries can not even afford to buy food for their children how can they possibly buy billion dollars worth of expensive guns and rifles and arms. More importantly, children are used as slaves for mining prescious gems and then these gems are sold in return for arms. And The very same arms are killing and wounding those children and exploiting them everyday.
İmportant improvements happened in the last decade in terrms of Eliminating The Worst Forks Of Children. ILO-IPEC(International Labour Organisation-International Programme on Eliminating Child Labour) is a major program taking place in the world with the support and involvement of many different countries. This program started in 1992 with the donation of German Government aims to eliminate child labour in the world. Also a numerious amount of NGOs also actively work elsewhere in the world. ILO from year 2002 onwards started celebrating 12th of June as “World Day Against Child Labour”. The point is would these efforts be enough to eliminate child labour in the world where even the official numbers reach 250 million.
Everyday billions of people in the world are eating chocolates, enjoying their coffees and receiving their engagement rings in their happiest moments of life. If they could know the realities then things might have been different. The amount of these children living in utter poverty and pain outnumber the population of whole Europe. And could the possible responsibles from this exploitation be the new emperors of the world in an era called the “New World Order”. Today while it is possible to find enormous amonut of documents for child labour in developing countries, the developed ones shine like a diamond. The price to be paid by the exploiters should be at least as much as the shame of the existence of the expolitation.