An estimated 168 million children aged between five and 17 were involved in child labour in 2013, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed this week, as incidences of children being deprived of their childhood, freedom and education, and exposed to abuse and exploitation continue unabated in many parts of the world.
In the West African nation of Ghana, the number of child workers currently engaged in some sort of ‘professional’ activities stands at 1.27 million, according to official statistics.
Many of Ghana’s children work in cocoa farms, illegal gold mining sites, and as domestic workers, prostitutes and drug pushers.
Experts have accused some African governments of ‘institutionalising’ child labour and standing aside and looking while young children working in homes as domestic workers or farms as ‘little’ farmers were not being paid, and severely beaten when they tried to claim their ‘salaries’.
Furthermore, n many parts of West Africa children have been guiding physically handicapped adult people all day, come rain or shine, to beg on the streets of Cotonou, Accra, Lome, Lagos, Dakar, Bamako and Niamey, among others.
Research also shows that many African adults, including cops, teachers and office administrators, coerced young children, as young as six, to sell stuff for them, including drugs and sex, and beat them up if they refused.
ILO yesterday, 12 June 2014, celebrated World Day Against Child Labour, with a theme “Extend social protection, combat child labour”.
Photo: A child worker struggling to carry a bag of cocoa in Ghana’s cocoa farm. Credit: