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Child Labour- a Dehumanizing Slave Master Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Osaretin, Nigeria Jun 26, 2011
Human Rights   Opinions


Child labour is something common in Africa and Nigeria where I come from because of poverty. Here, most families live below the poverty line, and as a result, malnutrition is not uncommon in Africa. The wealth of the nations is not evenly distributed. It is rather concentrated in the hands of very few of the privileged, such that the gap between the haves and the haves-not is very wide. In order to cushion some of the effects of poverty and get something to eat, many families practice child labour by sending their children into the streets to do all manner of things provided that money comes from it, and it puts food on the table.

Every African child has right to a good education, quality healthcare, shelter, a balanced diet, and the rest, just like every other child in the western world. But here in Africa and third world countries like Nigeria, what I see almost on a daily basis is the violation of the child’s rights when they are supposed to be protected. I have seen male children below the age of twelve on several occasions being used as conductors, an employee who takes money for tickets on a bus or streetcar, all in their attempt to earn their daily pay.

Other children sell and hawk many things on the streets where they become exposed to abuse: physical and sexual. Some are captured for child trafficking or used for money rituals, while many of the girls become victims of rape. Many of these children as I have observed do not go to school as they begin work as early as 6.00 am and retire to the place where they live around 8.00 – 9.00 pm. In fact, some of them don’t even have homes to go to, so they look for empty mechanic workshops that the owners have left during night hours, or abandoned vehicles, to lay their heads till morning when they start again to fend for themselves. The boys sometimes end up becoming thieves while the girls end up becoming prostitutes.

Parents are supposed to go to work and earn money to take good care of their children, but the reverse seems to be the case for many poor families as they depend on their children’s income to survive. Some families take begging as a profession and a way of living. The parents of children born to these families take their children to very busy locations where they are made to beg for alms while the parents themselves sit under a shade and watch the children make money through begging under the scorching sun. The condition in which these children beg is unhealthy and could be potentially fatal for them.

Many children are taken away from the succor and protection of their families to serve as house helps in very hostile conditions all in the name of helping poor families take care of children. Perhaps, income earned by the children is given to their immediate family members to enhance their survival. The majority of these children are always females who are maltreated by the families where they have been hired as servants. More often than not, they are not sent to schools like the children of the families hiring them. Their rights as children are being violated by the private employer’s family - the right to have quality healthcare, education, and the freedom to play – with nobody to defend and protect them. Many suffer sexual molestation from adult males in the employers' families where they are maids. I think this is a modern, disguised form of slavery that should have already been abolished many years back. It breaks my heart to see some Nigerian children still suffering spiteful masqueraded form of slavery our forefathers already suffered.

It will be all right if we put the blame on the parents, but unfair to totally think that they are actually the real cause of child labour. If we look on the bright side, these working children are essential for the survival of their immediate family. But if as a result of industrial revolution and economic boom in Africa, there are enough job opportunities for the parents and increases in their wages that they could afford to send their children to school instead of work, child labour will not be an issue. So I think the real cause of the problem is political. Most African countries have leaders who rule their country for reasons that best serve their own desire or interest instead of the desires of the citizens.

To reduce child labour, because I doubt it can be stopped totally like slave trade, all hands must be on deck; hands which include those of the government, the parents, the private agencies, NGOs, the media, and even the children themselves. They all must work together as it is the sole responsibility of everyone to protect and defend children against the dehumanizing slavery of child labour caused by poverty.



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Root cause vs. Offshoot of the problem
Adanna Chigbo | Dec 14th, 2011
It is not enough to sit down and cry "They are stealing my fish" when you can actually do something to stop them. In a similar way, people keep talking about human trafficking and how it is inhumane for people (those who give up their children willing) to participate in something like this. Just as you said, they ought to address the ROOT of the problem (providing better means of livelihood for the poor people and educating them) rather than concentrating their attacks on the RESULT of the problem. For a family with 15 children, for instance, the way they may see it is that the children being trafficked in exchange for what we consider a ridiculously meager sum of money, are simply “saviors” to make life a little better for the many mouths they have left at home for the short period of time before they are out of money again. The root causes of such problems really need to be addressed to make a significant difference in this matter.

Child labour
Henry Ekwuruke | Oct 5th, 2011
This is good. Slavery of any form is bad and i think the government have alot of work to do. A situation where the siting government in Nigeria is planning on increasing our collective poverty through removal of fuel subsidy is unacceptable and inhuman at this time in history.

Child Labour
Wright | Nov 1st, 2011
Child labour is a menace to our society. Increasingly so in this day and time. What amazes me however, is he fact that the children go a-begging, while the parents sit under a shade and watch. How so callous and wicked.Why cant the parents go a-begging while the children sit under the shade. We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly evil. As much as i understand that poverty is the main cause of this scourge, i also believe that some of these folks are just so very lazy. Sincerely, it hurts me when i see little children begging for money, or hawking on the streets. I want to help, i really want to.

Child Labour
Asukwo Etuk | Oct 10th, 2011
Great Work there.

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