More than 151 million children are caught up in child labour
world wide: Fairtrade calls for action at a local
level

This World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) is
a sharp reminder for New Zealanders to demand businesses
eradicate child labour from their supply chains as part of a
move towards a fairer world, says Fairtrade Australia & New
Zealand CEO Molly Harriss Olson.

Children as young as
five are still in child labour, despite the efforts of the
global community through the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact,
almost half of child labourers around the world are under 11
years old.

“Everyone has the power to ask questions
about the products they buy, and this is a good opportunity
to remind retailers that if they wouldn’t have a five- or
six-year-old operating a coffee machine, they shouldn’t
tolerate children picking the coffee in the first place,”
Ms Harriss Olson says.

According to the International
Labour Organization more than 151 million children are
caught up in child labour, and almost half of them are
exposed to the worst forms of hazardous or exploitative
labour, such as slavery, sex or drug trafficking, or being
used as child soldiers.

That means 151 million children
are being denied the chance to go to school, play or just be
children.

It is the agriculture sector where most
children work illegally, with an estimated 108 million child
labourers worldwide.

“The global supply chains for many
products that Kiwis use every day, such as chocolate, tea,
coffee, bananas and cotton, are frequently opaque,” Ms
Harriss Olson says. “This makes it hard for consumers to
understand the extent of their entanglement with child
exploitation. Many of us may be supporting child labour
without realising it, even though the thought of exploiting
children would be mortifying to most – if not all –
Kiwis.

“If a primary school-aged child here was stocking
supermarket shelves with heavy boxes of chocolate bars for
hours on end or sitting behind a sewing machine all day at a
shopping mall’s alteration stand we would want to know
why, but if it’s at the other end of the supply chain too
often we fail to act.”

Unlike Australia, Canada and
the UK, the New Zealand Government has yet to introduce a
Modern Slavery Act, which means the responsibility to check
that goods and services were made ethically is still heavily
reliant on the consumer, Ms Harriss Olson
adds.

“Changing the law in New Zealand would require
businesses to show leadership on the issues, transforming
their supply chains and helping to eliminate child
exploitation.

“But each of us can also play an important
role in eradicating child labour.

“Each time we take
bite of Fairtrade chocolate, purchase a cup of Fairtrade
coffee or eat a Fairtrade banana, we are taking a stand
against child labour,” Ms Harriss Olson
concludes.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 



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