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Corona crisis: Child labor is increasing - one in ten children worldwide is affected


Child labor decreased for years, but the pandemic could reverse the trend: Many poor families are currently dependent on the help of the youngest - so children are now rummaging in the garbage instead of going to school.

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152 million children have to work instead of going to school - like this boy in the Indian state of Jharkhand

Photo: Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket / Getty Images

A little over a year ago, Shekh Zahid's everyday life consisted of going to fourth grade at a school in West Bengal, a state in the far north of India.

Now the ten-year-old is poking around in the garbage at a landfill in the Indian capital Delhi, a thousand kilometers away from home.

The garbage piles up there 50 meters high.

It stinks, the boy's hands are black with dirt.

Shekh comes here every day, with his uncle and other children, they are looking for things that someone else could need.

Things to sell.

Each of them makes 150 rupees on most days, which is equivalent to 1.70 euros.

Shekh's family had sent him to Delhi during the pandemic.

"We are poor," says Shekh.

"We suffered a lot during the lockdown." His father, a rickshaw driver, currently earns much less - now the boy has to support the family.

One in ten children worldwide is affected by child labor

Millions of children around the world feel like Shekh Zahid.

It is true that the number of children and young people who work instead of going to school or doing an apprenticeship has fallen by around 100 million since 2000.

Nevertheless, almost every tenth child worldwide is still affected by child labor - and the corona crisis has made their situation significantly worse;

152 million under-18s work to help families survive, 48 percent of whom are under the age of twelve.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) comes to this conclusion.

In the pandemic, the income of people living on the subsistence level fell by another 60 percent on a global average.

A recent UN report comes to a similar conclusion.

This increases the pressure on families and on parents who have to send their children to work.

It's about family survival.

Corona crisis exacerbates the situation for the poorest

According to the ILO, it is mainly men and women who are feeling the consequences of the crisis: they sell food at street stalls, work in the fields, run small stalls, do laundry, clean houses and serve in restaurants.

The World Bank estimates that up to 150 million people could end up in extreme poverty due to the corona crisis by the end of the year.

You then had less than the equivalent of 1.50 euros a day.

The pandemic could set people back "by years, if not a whole generation," says Benjamin Smith, an expert on child labor at the ILO.

In addition, schools have been closed for months in many countries due to corona.

In India, for example, children had previously received free food in school kitchens.

Online lessons are not possible without internet access.

Without education, children’s chances of escaping poverty decrease.

Most of the girls and boys who have to work (72 million) live in Africa, followed by Asia (62 million), according to Unicef.

The girls and boys are robbed of their childhood, their education and their development through child labor: According to internationally valid children's rights (1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child), any work that is dangerous or exploitative, that damages their physical or mental development or that prevents them from being educated is prohibited.

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mst / dpa

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2021-01-21

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