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Opinions of Thursday, 20 August 2020

Columnist: Elohor Sekegor, Contributor

The rising cases of child labour and abuse in Nigeria; the way out

Despite constitutional provision against child labour, a large number of children continue to be exploited under hazardous work conditions. Poorly paid for long hours of work, they have to abandon their studies to support their family at an age when they are supposed to just play around and have fun.

They are made to forego all the joys of childhood by a cruel and ruthless world.

They are shamelessly exploited in the organized sector as domestic servants, hawkers, waste -bin pickers, paper vendors, agricultural labourers, and workers in industries as concerns.

Because of the minimum wages they earn, it makes them feel great as salary earners which lead to abuse of such child and make them indulge in social vices such as drug traffickers, robbery, hire killers, kidnapper and taking prostitution as a profession: which they get paid by their employers.


Causes of Child Labour:

Child labour is inevitable in a country, Nigeria, where over 70% of the population lives in conditions of extreme poverty. The children have to supplement their parents’ income or in some cases, they are only wage earners in the family.

Another reason is that vested interest deliberately creates child labour to get cheap labour as a factory hand, a domestic servant or a shop assistant.

The state of child labourers:

Children often work in dangerously polluted factories. They work for 9 to 10 hours at a stretch including night shifts. No wonder that a large number of child workers have sunken chest and thin bone frames which gives them to work in small rooms under certain conditions which include unhygienic surroundings.

Most of these children come from extremely poor households. They are either school dropouts or those who have not seen any school lecture going on at all.

Child labourers run the risk of contracting various diseases. They are vulnerable to exploitation by all. There is no strict enforcement of laws against child labour, so, employers continue to circumvent the provisions of the law in the full knowledge that the child workers themselves will not dare to expose them.

Child labourers are subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse, sometimes even leading to death.

Suggested Solution to Child Labour and Abuse

We need policies which can help alleviate poverty and inequality as they can have a significant and decisive impact on economic conditions and social structures that have a bearing on child labour. Such initiative may incorporate agrarian reforms, employment- generation programmes, use of improved technology among the poor, promotion of the informal sector and creation of cooperatives and social security schemes.

Also required is effective enforcement machinery to punish the violators of the law. Labour -inspection and related services need to be strengthened. And the authorities should incorporate a provision for surprise checks and establish a separate vigilance cell.

Moreso, the government should bring down the incidence of child labour through reform and investment in education, mid-day meals should be re-emphasized homeless children should be provided housing, schools with qualified teachers should be more developed.

Laws banning child labour should be more, strictly enforced. Employers should compulsorily take comprehensive steps for the intellectual, vocational and educational well-being and upliftment of a child worker.

The government should make an effort to increase the incomes of the parent by launching various development schemes, efforts should be made towards poverty eradication. Child labourers have to toil long hours to eke out a living for themselves and their families.

Exploitation becomes a way of life for them and becomes very harmful to their physical and mental development. They are forced to inhabit an adult word, shoulder adult responsibilities, and suffer extreme exploitation.

Absolutely, collective efforts are needed on the part of society and the government to put an end to the practice of child labour.

A child labourer not just suffer physical and mental torture but also becomes mentally and emotionally mature too fast which is never a good sign.

In fact, every registered and non-registered organization/company should take a pledge to never employ child labourer, rather discourage others from doing so. We should create awareness among people employing child labourers and the parents sending their children to work.

We need to provide our children with a happy childhood where they are able to enjoy the best period of their lives with a merry and carefree attitude.

It’s make-believe that the government hoped to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2020, but no serious implementation if a may say.

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