Exploited Children Speak Up on World Day Against Child Labor
Children as young as 5 or 6 years old are victims of child labor. They work in carpet factories, in agricultural fields, and deep in mines, excavating minerals in toxic conditions. These children work for very little money and can only hope for an education and a better life.
Saturday, June 12, marks the World Day Against Child Labor. To reach the U.N.'s goal of eradicating child labor, governments, employers and citizens around the world need to listen to these children and make drastic changes to ensure their safety and well-being.
Reported by Sify India News, a 7-year-old child-trafficking victim named Saleem was brokered through a middleman in India. The man told Saleem and his family that he would provide the boy with an education. Saleem said, "The uncle who brought me here a year back had promised my parents that he will send me to school and give me some light work so that I can send some money back home."
Saleem was later rescued. He says of his time as a victim of child labor, "I was put to work in a small factory making embroidery clothes. It was a small room and there were six other boys like me, working for 14 hours every day and paid little or no money at all."
Sunny, another young boy in India, told IANS, "I have no idea what Child Labor Day means. Yes, I want to go to school and study, but my father is ill and can't go to work. So I have to work here the whole day to earn some money to help run the house."
Reported by BBC World, an 8-year-old boy named Daiku is one of 800 children who mine copper and colbalt that go into household electronics and batteries for mobile phones. Daiku and his brothers work from morning until night and are typically paid less than a dollar a day. At times they are paid only with a small lunch.
Daiku told BBC World, "My father can’t pay my school fees. That’s why my life is so hard." After a long hard day, he says, "We get very very tired in the mines. We spend all day there. It’s horrible work. Now we are just going to drink some water and fall asleep.”
A 10-year-old Pakistani child labor victim, Iqbal Masih, fought against these forms of child labor. At a young age, his parents sold him to a carpet factory for the equivalent of $12 U.S. At the carpet factory, he was forced into bonded labor.
He managed to escape and start a crusade against child labor. A hero to many, he was assassinated at the age of 12.
During a speech to his many supporters in 1994, Iqbal held up a carpet tool and said, “Children do not need these instruments. If there is something wrong, they get beaten with it. And if they are hurt, they are not taken to the doctor. Children do not need these instruments; they need this instrument, the pen."