Despite the treaties, child labor remains rampant. They are 160 million in the world to engage in work, a number that has been increasing for 4 years. Interview with Camille Romain des Boscs, director of the Vision du Monde association that fights this scourge.
Le Courrier de l’Atlas: It is estimated that child labor affects 160 million people worldwide. Are there areas more affected than others?
Camille Romain de Bosque: In fact, the distribution is uneven. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest-hit regions. It is estimated that child labor affects one in four young people, and with impoverishment, this phenomenon affects all continents.
What sectors use child labor?
Camille Romain de Bosque: Children go to help their parents mainly in the agricultural field. Girls will also be involved in whatever is marginal to the agricultural field, doing household chores or fetching water every day. Then they find themselves out of school. So there is work in the fields but also housework. Moreover, girls are believed to be the first victims of child labor.
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What are the causes of this child labor?
Camille Romain de Bosque: The first explanation for this scourge is poverty, even extreme poverty. This has been reinforced with the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents don’t do it lightly. You should be able to help feed the family. There may also be a repetition of the tradition. Parents who worked as children can repeat this with their parents. Lack of education can also play a role. Parents don’t think of school as a haven or they can’t afford to send them to school.
What are the consequences of child labor (lack of education, health, etc.)?
Camille Romain de Bosque: Of course, the first result is education, but there can also be physical consequences for children’s development. The work required of them is often arduous. This may relate to farming, but you should also consider exploitation in the mines, prospecting for gold, or on the roads. There are also psychological and mental consequences of exploiting children and girls. There may be sexual violence. The psychological consequences are very strong in children.
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However, there is the International Convention on the Rights of the Child…
Camille Romain de Bosque: Not all countries signed it. There may be examples so amazing as Quebec. There is no minimum working age there. Children under 14 years of age only need parental permission.
How does World Vision work to combat child labor?
Camille Romain de Bosque: We try to do in-depth work that can have a positive impact on changing things. The first relates to birth registration, which allows children to prove their age. Education is also being developed in the most remote areas. As a corollary, we will also deal with the economic hardship that parents may face in sending their children to school. We ensure that parents can be able to feed, nurture and ensure their children’s education. Finally, we engage in advocacy work with states so that laws protect children. This is for those who do not have legal action or who have one but it does not apply. The spectrum is therefore broad and ranges from birth registration to strengthening the economic capacity of parents and finally applying pressure on states.
A few years ago, several international brands were recognized for their involvement in child labour. Is this still the case today?
Camille Romain de Bosque: We continue to monitor until this does not happen again. Today, these companies are closely monitored. They can no longer do anything. These are under the watchful eye of associations and consumers. However, we must remain vigilant in the areas that are less in the spotlight.
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