Global Report on Child Labour

A report from the International Labour Organization reveals that the worst forms of child labour are much more widespread than was previously thought. Some 180 million youngsters are performing hazardous work. They may be victims of traffickers or be forced to work in the sex trade or recruited as child soldiers, as ILO TV now reports.

Date issued: 10 May 2002 | Size/duration: 00:02:43 (6.66 MB)

Every day Amir in Sialkot, Pakistan swaps his school clothes for work clothes and school books for machines like this one. At the age of 8 he started working, at 12 he insists he will never stop. He daily sits in a high risk environment and has already paid a price for it. But the damage to his thumb through this machine has not stopped him from contributing his one dollar a day to the family income by producing some of the world’s surgical instruments.

Amir, child labourer in Pakistan surgical instruments industry

Amir, child labourer in Pakistan surgical instruments industry

Yes it is very dangerous and hazardous, but it pays more because of that.

Amir is one of 246 million children around the world engaged in work they should not be in. This means one in every six children between the ages of 5 and 17 is a child labourer. These figures are highlighted in a new global report, “A Future without Child Labour”, released by the International Labour Organization which reveals that the worst forms of child labour are much more widespread than was previously thought. It says 180 million children are engaged in what the ILO defines as the worst forms of child labour. One child out of every eight children in the world is either performing hazardous work or being trafficked, forced to work, held in debt bondage, enslaved, forcibly recruited for armed conflicts or involved in prostitution or pornography.

Although media attention often focuses on the export and commercial sex sectors, the vast majority of children, 70% of them, work in agriculture. It is a sector with some of the highest accident rates in the developed and developing world, often with no social safety net for those struggling to survive.

With only 95% of child labourers working in a volatile and unregulated informal economy, one of the biggest challenges will be reaching these children as well as their families and communities.

Juan Somavia, Director-General, International Labour Organisation

The worst forms of child labour is something that we are going to eliminate. We are going to make it a global cause, and this is not something that we can shy away from because we cannot have moral indifference vis a vis this reality.

Child labour not only undermines the individual development of a child, but also robs a society of their contribution to help break a cycle of poverty.

The report represents a renewed plea by the ILO for effective partnerships to fight child labour. The ILO itself runs over 800 projects in 75 countries as its contribution to a future without child labour.