Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guinea Bissau: Worst Child Labor Continues

Bissau (Agenzia Fides) - In Guinea Bissau and Mauritania, despite the law does not allow it, there are still the worst forms of child exploitation.

In Mauritania, the law prohibits work for children under the age of 14, and punishes those who contravenes this rule. The reality, according to a recent report by the Trade Unions Federation (ITUC), is different and the boys of that age group continue to be sent to work, often in conditions of slavery.

While the majority of children and girls are used as houseworkers for 10 hours a day, the boys are forced to beg or are sent to work in the construction industry, on buses, or enrolled in criminal gangs. In rural areas children are forced to work in the fields or with animals for 16 hours a day as well as suffering a lot of violence. According to a research by the NGO SOS Slavery in 2009, a fifth of Mauritania's population is subjected to various forms of slavery.

The situation is not much different in Guinea, where the law prohibits the employment of children under 16 years of age but in reality they are being exploited on farms, in mines, and fisheries. According to the ITUC, some children work in the mines from the age of 5 for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Another social problem is slave trade. There are still many children forced to beg and do other illegal activities. In the poorest rural societies of West Africa child labor is considered a normal phenomenon, a way to educate children and ensure their future work. In Guinea, for example, it is believed that a child who works for a family is beneficial. Many poor families have no choice but to send their children to work.

Among the ITUC priorities there is a careful search of cases of children forced to work to pay for their religious education, and more prosecutions for those who oblige children to work.

But given the reality, it is equally important to improve the conditions of thousands of children who inevitably end up working, and find a way to also help them to go to school. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 13/10/2011)
Source: Agenzia Fides

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