Category Archives: Plight of Child Labourers

How to Buy a Child in 10 Hours

Dan Harris, an American ABC reporter’s life had drastically changed in a couple of hours, as he travelled from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to  Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His goal- to buy a child.

While driving along a road, going to one of the few upscale hotels in Haiti, two things become immediately apparent: Port-au-Prince is an amazing, lively place, and it is also very poor. Once arriving to the hotel and lounging by the pool, Dan meets with a security guard working at the hotel to talk about buying and selling a child. In less than a mere two hours, the Haitian security guard offers him a girl for $150.

To prove this shocking reality, Dan brought and undercover camera to document and expose this disgusting black market trade. He meets up with another man who offers him a child he can take home, even providing fake transcripts so that he can take the child back to the US. This girl can be bought for the price of $10 000, and he adds in that she is “tres belle”.

Just when this Dan though this coul not be more surreal, he is approached by two waiters working at the hotel. They tell him that they have overheard his conversation with the men. Scared they might throw him out of the hotel, Dan panics. However, to his surprise they offer him girls to be bought and do not care what dan does with them.

Thousands of Haitian girls and boys are sold into slavery every year. They are often tricked and told that they are going off to school to learn by their parents, who desperately sell them for whatever they can get.  After being sold, they are treated like slaves, subject to physical and sexual abuse from their “owners”. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Often, parents cannot afford to provide for their children. Child slavery in Haiti is a serious issue, not to be ignored for every child should have the right to education and life.

For his full report, visit

How can somewhere so beautiful be so horrifying?


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Myth vs. Reality

There are four common myths about child labour we must break down in order to understand this issue. As listed by UNICEF, they are:

Myth #1: Child labour is only a problem in developing countries.

However, child labour can be found in many industrialized countries. For example, in the Unites States many children are employed in agriculture, mainly ethnic minorities and immigrants. A 1990 survey of Mexican-American children working in the farms of New York state showed that almost half had worked in fields still wet with pesticide and over a third had been sprayed with these harmful pesticides.

Myth #2: Child labour will only disappear when poverty disappears.

Although these two issues go hand in hand, hazardous child labour can, and should be eliminated by even the poorest countries.

Myth #3: Most child labourers work in sweatshops making goods for export.

Soccer balls made by children in Pakistan, carpets woven in India-  these may provide a compelling, internationally recognized symbol for child labour. However most of the worlds are not to be found working in the export industries but in the informal secotr, selling on the street, at work in agriculture, or hidden away in houses. Only 5% actually work in sweatshops as the further they are from the reach of labour inspectors and from media scrutiny, the more they can get away with by hiring child labourers.

Myth #4: The only way to make headway against child labour is for consumers and governments to apply pressure through sanctions and boycotts.

Boycotts and other drastic measures can only affect export sectors, which are only small exploiters of children. Thus, this technique does not reach the core of the problem. These measures may also cause long-term consequences that can actually harm rather than help the children involved.

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Diamonds are forever, lives are not

A child labourer and amputee in Sierra LeoneMany of the world’s diamonds are harvested using techniques that exploit children, communities, and the environment. Lack of regulation, harsh labour conditions, and poor wages make child labour a regular use in the conflict diamond trade. Because they are considered a source of cheap labour and have small bodies, they are often sent small areas of mines that adults aren’t able to enter. Other challenging dangerous and physically painstaking tasks such as digging soil from pits and being lowered into small holes by ropes.

In Angola, 46% of miners are under the age of sixteen. Many children are forced to mine diamonds due to civil war, lack of education, and poverty. These diamond mines are often controlled by a corrupt government, where the power lies in the hands of weapons. Children were not only used as labourers but as child soldiers. Mutilations and killing were an often occurence if one did not obey the soldiers and rebel groups. More than half the world’s diamonds are processed in India. Therefore child labour is most commonly used for cutting and polishing diamonds in tis region of the world. Children are in risk of harming themselves all for little pay, where they will eventually be replaced by younger children.

As consumers in the Western world, we never think about how we receive these diamonds? So the next time we purchase a ring or necklace, we should ask ourselves, “What price are we really paying for these diamonds?”

Take a look at the journey a diamond takes before it is in the hands of the consumer, and how many people are involved in the gem’s long, winding path.

Also, I recommend watching Blood Diamond. A movie based on atrocities set during the Sierra Leone civil war in 1996-1999. The movie portrays the unbelievable and sad realities innocent civilians faced, as children were mutilated, brainwashed, turned into child soldiers, and child labourers working in the diamond mines.

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Freedom Hero

Iqbal Masih was born April 16, 1983. At the tender age of four, he was sold as a child slave because his mother Inayat could no longer support the family with the small income she was making as a housecleaner, as his father had abandoned the family shortly after Iqbal’s birth. He was sold for the equivalent of $12 US dollars. By age five, Iqbal was forced to work on a carpet loom where he would endure insufficient care and food, along with working 12 hours a day. By age twelve, Iqbal’s body was the size of a six-year olds body due to malnutrition and the strenuous hours he was forced to work, cramped in front of a loom.

At age ten, Iqbal desperately escaped this slavery and joined Bonded Labour Liberation Front of Pakistan to help stop child labour around the world.  He was educated about his rights and was motivated to tell his story to others. Iqbal became the voice for child labourers his powerful , articulate, and encouraging words helped free child slaves all over the world.

He was shot and killed at the age of 12, presumably for speaking out against the child labour industry. Regardless, Iqbal is a symbol of hope, a small brave boy who defended the weak. Hid dream was to become a lawyer, so that he could continue to fight for freedom on behalf of Pakistan’s seven and a half million child labourers.

Not only did he win two human rights awards, but inspired Craig Kielburger, a well-known Canadian children’s rights activist to devote his life to Iqbal’s cause and organize Free the Children. Iqbal proved that a bullet can’t kill a dream.

Rajinda Jayasinghe portraying Iqbal Masih in the movie Iqbal based on his life. This scene is when Iqbal is saying a speech at an international conference about child labour.

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world … Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.” Eleanor Roosevelt

This charter applies to all nations and is a standard of achievement for all nations. We must recognize that all people are created equally to be respected and to be born with the same rights and freedoms.

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

 Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Unfortunately most child labourers have never experienced a periodic holiday and once they are bought into child labour, leisure becomes non-existent, rest is scarce, there is no limitation on working hours, and paid periodic holidays is unheard of. These children do not know their rights and freedoms they are granted, thus sadly, they are an easy target to be taken advantage of and abused. The innocence and naiveness of child allows for intimidation from the employer, sexual and physical exploitation which violates their human rights. This ultimately steals the childhood of youth.



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What have children done for us?

Well, they make our clothes and shoes.

Out of the 218 million child labourers in the world, 122 million are in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, then South America. Between forty and fifty percent of all forced labourers are children and 1.2 million of these children have been bought or sold (trafficked). Children are being treated like items you buy at the mall. They are humans, with rights and freedoms that you and I are fortunate to have, for they do not receive them.

So why should we care? After all, we don’t know these children, most of them are half way around the world!

These child labourers, as young as age five are put in hazardous situations, where their jobs put them in danger and in risk of injury, or even death. Along with morals and compassion, these 218 million children are the future of tomorrow. Between today and the 2020, majority of new workers, citizens, and consumers will come from developing countries. According to research by Population Action International, over this period of time, about 730 million people will enter the world’s workforce that is more than all the people employed in today’s most developed nations in 2000. These children will grow into adults, bringing the skills they learned into the world’s economy and society. Doing work at an early age will destroy the health of these children and impede on their education.

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