By: Ma. Fernanda Camacho (Translated by Patricia Minski)
The country loses when a child works
On April 16, 1996, Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old Pakistani boy, was killed by gangs.
He was enslaved in factories from a very young age, so at the age of 10 he decided to join a group of activists against child exploitation, thus causing the closure of several factories that exploited children.
Thanks to his work, the condition of many children was improved, but for this very reason his life was taken away from him. Because of Iqbal Masih’s story, April 16 is commemorated as the Day Against Child Slavery.
Forms of child slavery:
- Slavery to pay a debt
- Trafficking of children
- Labor in mines and fields
- Child soldiers
- Forced marriage
- Domestic slavery
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than 160 million children are engaged in forced labor.
Based on statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it is estimated that:
- The Asia Pacific region is home to the largest number of working children in the 5-14 age group, 127.3 million in total (19% of working children in the region).
- In sub-Saharan Africa, there are about 48 million working children.
- In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are approximately 17.4 million working children. 15% of children in the Middle East and North Africa are working.
- Approximately 2.5 million and 2.4 million children, respectively, work in developed countries and economies in transition.
Children should play, study and enjoy themselves. They should not work nor should they be forced to do anything. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century there are still cases of child slavery and that more effort isn’t being taken to eradicate it.
If at any time in our lives we witness an event of this type, we should not remain silent, nor should we show indifference. We must inform the authorities and not contribute to this type of exploitation. It is time for all children in the world to have rights, it is time for them to go free without fear of being mistreated. It is time for us to fight for a better life for the little ones, because is it not fair that these innocent souls have to deal with this cruel world.