Conflict & Justice

Need to know: Child labor


A boy works at a coal depot on April 16, 2011 near to Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. Local schools in the area, providing free tuition, find it difficult to convince parents of the benefits of education, as children are seen as sources of income. The lure of the mines is stronger than that of the classroom.


Daniel Berehulak

The International Labor Organization yesterday had its annual World Day Against Child Labor, which raises awareness of some of the worst kinds of labor used around the world. 

It's a particularly hearbreaking kind of slavery, and every year we are closer to combating the practice of using underaged workers. In 2010, a roadmap was outlined for ending child labor by 2016 and called it an "urgent priority." Steps are being taken by the world's governments to address these issues by creating policies like minimum age laws, complusory education, and supportive justice systems. However, there's still a lot of work to do.

Here are some facts:

  • According to the ILO, the most recent estimates suggest 127 million boys and 88 million girls are involved in child labor with 74 million boys and 41 million girls in the worst forms.
  • In Cambodia, 52 percent of children aged between seven and 14 work—over 1.4 million children.
  • 193 countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States has not.
  • While many areas of the world are experiencing some progress in reducing child labor, Sub-Saharan Africa is seeing an increase in child labor activity.
  • Nearly one in five victims of trafficking around the world are children.

Both the Atlantic and Reuters have slideshows of child laborers in honor of yesterday's World Day Against Child Labor.

Facts via Stop Child Labor, unless noted. 

For more on GlobalPost's coverage of global labor, check out our Special Report, "Worked Over: The Global Decline of Labor Rights."