Child labor

I was one of the guests at the i-Speak media Forum at City Hall yesterday and I issued the following statement:

The picture featured at the homepage of the G8 summit website in Hokkaido, Japan on July 7-9, 2008 is truly disturbing. It shows the globe being carried by four children. The children were smiling all right and appear that they have no burden.

But, millions like them are not. They carry on their shoulders the brunt of child labor that involves over 2 million in the Philippines and 200 million worldwide.

Unfortunately, this global problem is not in the agenda of the world economic superpowers. The children used in the website were mere decorations to lull us into believing that the world’s rich nations look after their care.

It is sad to note that efforts by the Dutch Government to include child labor in the international agenda of the world’s most powerful nations have fallen on deaf ears.

So, in this summit, nothing will be discussed on the issue on child labor. This comes at a time when we are marking the World Day Against Child Labor here in Davao City on June 28, 2008.

Here are the grim statistics on the issue:

Global child labor – over 200 million boys and girls aged 5-14

70 percent or 132 million are in agriculture

Other worst forms of child labor – construction, mining, domestic service, commercial sex and illicit activities

Child trafficking – 1.2 million a year

Children in armed conflicts as child soldiers – 300,000

In the Philippines:

11 percent of children ages 5-14 are involved in economic activities (2.2 million in 2001)

65.4 % are in agriculture and commercial plantations

29.4 % in services; and

5.3 % in industrial services

Worst forms of child labor (in addition to agriculture, construction, mining, domestic service and commercial sex) also include pyrotechnic production and muroami fishing

Also increasing trend of children in armed conflict

Children should be in school and enjoy their childhood. They should not be exploited and forced into dangerous and hazardous work.

We condemn the use of child labor and child soldiers here and throughout the world.

We call on the Arroyo government and world leaders to address child labor not just as a social or economic issue. This is an issue of fundamental human and children’s rights!

6:22 a.m.