BANGKOK (ILO News) – Royalty, Presidents and traditional chiefs will join children and their guardians worldwide on 12 June to mark the second World Day Against Child Labour.
This year’s event, organized under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), is to focus on the trafficking of children. Some 1.2 million children are compelled through trafficking into various forms of unwanted work, ranging from hazardous of forced labour to sexual exploitation.
The ILO established the World Day to highlight global efforts against child labour. The ILO estimates that there are nearly 250 million child labourers worldwide, three quarters of whom are trapped in the worst forms - conditions that are hazardous or otherwise damaging to their development and well being.
Trafficked children are caught in a web that spans all continents and nearly all countries, either as sending, receiving or transit points. These children are moved within and across national borders through force, coercion or deception by unscrupulous traffickers.
"Today we ask people around the world to open their hearts to these children and show their outrage and anger over trafficking," says ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "Child trafficking is an immoral and illegal practice, forcing children to work in abominable conditions, often terrorized and abused by ruthless criminals who make their living from what amounts to a global market of the innocents."
The ILO defines a trafficked child as one who is relocated and exploited. Those who contribute to or profit from the practice – recruiters, middlemen, document providers, transporters, corrupt officials and others – are defined as traffickers.
Alarmingly, most children who are trafficked today wind up in commercial sexual exploitation. The ILO publication "Unbearable to the Human Heart"1 says that less publicized forms of trafficking push children into domestic service, service industries like restaurants and bars, hazardous work in factories, agriculture, construction, fishing and begging and even armed conflict.
In Southeast Asia, the ILO has been implementing a Mekong sub-regional project to combat trafficking in children and women (TICW), which is operational in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam and China’s Yunnan province. TICW focuses on trafficking prevention through employment creation, education and skills training in trafficking source areas, using a participatory approach that engages government authorities and other stakeholders at various levels.
TICW also explores legal labour migration alternatives to trafficking in collaboration with worker and employer organizations. The TICW project has led to a reduction in trafficking in target communities as a result of awareness-raising activities, village mobilization, income-generation initiatives and capacity building of local, district and provincial authorities2.
Another project, known as Combatting Trafficking in Children for Labour and Sexual Exploitation (TICSA), aims to strengthen the capacity of country-level partners to prevent child trafficking within countries and across borders, and to rehabilitate child victims of trafficking. TICSA activities include research, prevention, policy development, capacity building, rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration. TICSA is currently operating in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Across the globe, communities will commemorate World Day Against Child Labour with a range of activities. In Thailand, the ILO organized a ‘Football Fun Day’ at the Dhephassadin Stadium on Saturday, which included football coaching and awareness-raising activities on child labour, as well as trafficking, the theme of this year’s World Day.
More than 60 children from Father Joe Maier’s Mercy Centre and the Foundation for Child Development’s Duang Khae Children’s Centre took part in the event. Coaching was undertaken by a team from JWFD (Jason Withe Football Development), while the Football Association of Thailand (F.A.T) kindly provided the venue. In Bangladesh, community vigilance groups are due to meet to discuss successful methods of thwarting trafficking attempts.
In Brazil, government leaders ranging from President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva to city mayors will issue a nationwide statement of commitment to fighting commercial sexual exploitation of children. In Russia, debate will be sparked by the screening of a feature film about a young girl driven by poverty and social collapse to accept a dubious future in Sweden.
At the International Labour Conference in Geneva, a special event will feature a diverse group of experts who intervene at different points along the trafficking chain. Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan will deliver the keynote address.
According to Frans Roselaers, Director of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, "New approaches of tackling the problem range from promoting education and other preventive action in vulnerable communities, to more effective law enforcement, to psychological counselling for victims and families and improving incomes and jobs for parents. This is why a broad cooperation is in place between community groups, international agencies, businesses, trade unions, immigration and other government personnel and many other actors."
2 For further information, see project web site at: www.ilo.org/asia