Despite the treaties, child labor is still widespread. They are 160 million in the world to get involved in the work, a number that has been increasing over the past 4 years. Interview with Camille Romain des Boscs, director of the Vision du Monde association, which is fighting this scourge.
Le Courrier de l’Atlas: It is estimated that child labor affects 160 million people worldwide. Are there regions that are more affected than others?
Camille Romain des Boscs: In fact, the distribution is uneven. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest hit regions. It is estimated that child labor affects 1 in 4 young people. With impoverishment, the phenomenon affects all continents.
Which sectors use child labor?
Camille Romain des Boscs: It is mainly in the field of agriculture that the children go to help their parents. The girls will also participate in everything that is peripheral to the agricultural area, do household chores or fetch water every day. Then they’re out of school. So there is work in the fields but also household chores. Furthermore, it is believed that girls are the first victims of child labor.
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What are the reasons for this child labor?
Camille Romain des Boscs: The first explanation for this plague is poverty, even extreme poverty. This has been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents do not make it easy. You must be able to help feed the family. There may also be a repetition of the tradition. Parents who worked as children can repeat this with theirs. Lack of education can also play a role. Parents do not think of school as an escape or can not afford to send them to school.
What are the consequences of child labor (lack of education, health, etc.)?
Camille Romain des Boscs: The first consequence is, of course, education, but there can also be physical consequences for children’s development. The work required of them is often laborious. It may relate to agriculture, but one must also think about exploitation in mines, gold panning or on the roads. There are also psychological and psychological consequences of exploiting children and girls. There may be sexual violence. The psychological consequences are very strong in children.
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However, there is the International Convention on the Rights of the Child …
Camille Romain des Boscs: Not all countries have signed it. There can even be quite astonishing examples like Quebec. There is no minimum age to work there. Children under 14 simply need parental permission.
How does World Vision act to combat child labor?
Camille Romain des Boscs: We try to do an in-depth work that can have a positive impact on changing things. The first concerns birth registration, which allows children to prove their age. Education is also being developed in the most remote regions. As a consequence, we will also act on the financial difficulties that parents may encounter by sending their children to school. We ensure that parents can be able to feed them, care for them and ensure their children’s education. Finally, we participate in advocacy work with states so laws protect children. These are those who do not have legal action, or who have one, but who are not using it. The spectrum is therefore wide and ranges from birth registration to strengthening the parents’ financial capacity and finally lobbying.
A few years ago, several international brands were nominated for their commitment to child labor. Is this still the case today?
Camille Romain des Boscs: We continue to monitor so that it does not happen again. Today, these companies are closely monitored. They can no longer do anything. These are well under the gaze of associations and consumers. However, we must continue to be vigilant in areas that are less in the spotlight.
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