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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Lest We Forget Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jocelyn Sweet, Canada Jun 28, 2007
Human Rights   Opinions


Child labour takes all sorts of forms. Boys wash city buses in Mexico. Girls sell kebabs in Ghana and fruit in Bangladesh. Some sell themselves in Thailand. Boys kill each other in Uganda. All around them, their societies function and accept their work as part of daily life. No one wonders why the boy selling gum in the middle of stopped traffic is there, because he is always there. If he is not there, someone else is.

In all of its forms, child labour represents the very essence of the human ability to survive. For a majority of children in the global north, choice of profession abounds. An entire industry has developed to assist people in choosing and planning for their respective careers as they mature into adulthood. For a majority of children in the global south, there are two choices. Survive, or not. To work is to survive, and a low paying or dangerous job will not get in the way of the choice to survive. Child labourers encounter barriers of illiteracy, innumeracy, malnutrition, ill health and abuse. These are barriers they do not fully understand, cannot fully articulate or surpass alone.

Addressing each of these barriers systematically, in ways and means that are mindful of local realities, presents the only possible solution. Many in the global north assuage guilt elicited by such topics by wondering aloud about the parents of child labourers. Rarely do we consider how we might cope without our basic public education, health care and fully stocked supermarkets. Only within the last two generations, generally speaking, has the global north enjoyed such advantage. Only within the last two generations, generally speaking, has the global north been free of child labour.



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Jocelyn Sweet

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good article
Wilson | Jul 13th, 2007
children are the inocent mirror of our society's problems and their vulnerability will not get in the way when survival is at stake

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