According to the International Labor Organization, “Child Labor” is simply defined as the work that makes children deprived of their rights. “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social diseases of poverty, you will both have child labor and poverty to the end”- (Grace Abbott). There is a very big difference between child labor and child work, simply work becomes child labor when any of the children are deprived of their childhood rights (Brandon, 2015). It is a sad reality that in this era more children are robbed of their innocence by controlling them from the outside world, some children are forced to grow up soon beyond their age while some are forced to face a miserable condition by making them do the things that are not acceptable by the society, whereas some children are given a mental trauma which is caused due to the breakdown of family life or peer pressure, others are abandoned, while many do not get an opportunity to go to school and are left to feed themselves or their family on the street (Wong, 2010). The International Labor Office reports that children are the ones who work the longest hours, and they are the ones who are paid the worst, or some even do not get paid at all (Bequele & Boyden, 1988).
We can see from the above diagram the number of child labor in Africa which is more than one-fifth of the population of the country. Asia has another high number of population of child labor where India covers a high percentage of it. A major reason why India has the largest child workforce is that 82 million of the children population does not go to school (Weiner, 1991). In Pakistan, 10 percent of workers are between the ages of 10 and 14 years (Weiner, 1991). There are 7 million of child workers in Brazil which is a very common practice in South America (International Labor Organization, 1992).
From the developed countries child labor was almost completely reduced but, however, currently, child labor is taking the hype in developing countries where the main causes are – rapid population growth, high rates of unemployment in the country, inflation, poverty, malnutrition, bad leadership, corruption and low wages (Bass, 2004). Normally children are not registered as employees and are forced to work in a very poor and dangerous situation without any kind of protection (Serwadda & Luwaga, 2005). Generally speaking, poverty is more prevalent in rural area especially among those people who depend on agriculture as their livelihood, so children around there are more likely to be engaged in economic labor activities compared to urban children (Akarro& Mtweve, 2011). For some families it is a compulsion to send their child to work because one’s earning is not enough, also poor rural families consider that making their children work may increase the household’s income which helps them to survive (Serwadda & Luwaga, 2005). Usually, the girls from urban cities like Mumbai, Calcutta, and New Delhi face the most vulnerable activities, they are typically trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation (Baker, 2008). There are also many problems with the poor urban children such as lack of education, healthcare and social protection (Baker, 2008). Mainly child laborers in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa are facing the worst forms of child labor which includes child trafficking, bonded child labor, domestic works, and other risky works, the children who are working in hazardous jobs which are exposed to chemicals, and other dangerous tools are more than 90 percent (Amon, 2012).
Girls and boys can be even found in various types of economic activities; for example, boys are more likely to do work that includes manufacturing, trade, restaurants, hotels, and transport, while girls are mainly focused on agriculture and domestic work (World Bank, 2005). Most boys tend to be engaged in economic activities whereas girls are more involved in household activities like taking care of their siblings, doing household chores (Mamadou, 2009). Although, in general, we do not see most of the girls in labor activities, but they are the ones who represent a very high percentage of working children. (Ray, 2001) the research carried out in Nepal and Pakistan shows that gender bias was more prevalence in Pakistan compared to Nepal. In Pakistan, boys are more likely to work longer and they also tend to get more wages than girls even working for equal hours and rural children are poorer than urban children, while this case is opposite in Nepal.
Poverty is taken as the main cause of child labor not only this, poverty creates many other problems like prostitution, corruption, robbery, malnutrition, the poor living condition of people, increased unemployment etc. (Owolabi, 2012; Ekpenyong & Sibirii, 2011). In general, poor people oblige their children to work in order to increase the household income because one person earning is too little to feed the whole family, and parents are not able to take care of all the responsibilities of the children as they earn very little (Khan, 2001). (Krueger, 1996) the study from cross-country sample shows that low-income households are more likely to send their children to the labor market which is a very uncommon practice in richer households. (Aqil, 2012) assumes that the children whose parents have worked in their childhood tend to send their children to work as well, passing it from generation to generation. (Fasih, 2007) assumes that child labor creates an unskilled and uneducated labor force as they do not get the chance to pursue their education which in turn affects the country’s whole development and economy.
The increasing numbers of orphaned children particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa have become street children, while others live in very different circumstances (Vandenberg, 2007). According to (Tauson, 2009) in rural places, parents want their children to work because they think that children will learn the work skill and consider it beneficial to them. Corruption within the country is one of the main reasons for misusing the resources, corruption, and poverty are interrelated where there is poverty there is also corruption (Murphy, 2005). For example, in countries like India employers corrupt labor inspectors to hire underage children where the incidence of a large number of child laborers indicates corruption (United Nations Development Programme, 2012). According to (Dash, 2013) many poor rural families migrate to urban cities like Delhi, where migrant families and their children are forced to work for survival and economic opportunities. The studies suggest that the problem which is resulted from the increasing child labor of globalization can be reduced by the higher income and a higher standard of living (Congdon, 2012). There is also an argument that globalization helps to expand the opportunity of exploiting cheap labor, especially from low-income countries. For example, countries like Vietnam, Mexico, and Thailand have provided evidence that child labor in these countries has declined due to globalization, but some countries like Bolivia and Zambia have shown a decline in schooling and an increase in child labor due to globalization (Mishra, 2012).
Parent education plays a vital role in children’s education. If parents are educated there is a very high chance for their children to have a good education (Aqil, 2012 & Wahba, 2000). The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are two of the predominant international agencies which are working against child labor. According to the studies of (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005; O’Donnell, 2005; Akarro & Mtweve, 2011), they assume that reduction of poverty can be a perfect solution to minimize child labor. UNICEF, UNESCO, and the World Bank have confirmed that education is the key strength to reduce child labor (Kruger, 2007). Compulsory education law in the country can help children to attend school and fight against child labor, the policy program that works regarding child labor must provide free good quality and compulsory education to working children, especially in poor regions (Bhat, 2011).
Some studies like (Dessy & Pallage, 2003) argue not all the work done by children is harmful or brutal, some work may provide successful learning opportunities, such as helping elders in household activities in their free time, or newspaper delivery or some part-time jobs, but not if the work exposes them to psychological stress, like human trafficking, prostitution and pornographic activities.
Regardless of the benefits that a person can get from the child by making them doing work, we still tend to believe that child labor is unethical, and it must stop. The pleasure of many people that child labor brings to them cannot be used as approval of its continuity. It is inhumane to use a child as a means and object for the pleasure of others. What is considered ever-lasting is the pain that a child must encounter for the sake of others. A child should experience having fun with their playmates and not having to compromise with the hostile environment and hazardous machines. A child should be given the opportunity to get a better education but never the chance to be manipulated. The campaign toward the disposal of child labor is undoubtedly a long way, but with our concerted and sincere efforts, we can certainly say that there are no more stories about the plight of the unseen workers.