Innumerable children are deprived of their childhood as they are forced into labour from a very young age. The context varies - some are kidnapped, some are sold, some work alongside their parents to sustain their families.
Child labour isnâ€™t a problem relegated to developing states or failed states. It also happens in the most developed countries, right in front of our collective eyes, yet is often ignored. From the US to Brazil, from India to Indonesia, child labour exists and currently â€śemploysâ€ť 215 million children. Yet, some progress has been made. The ILO estimates that the, "Global number of children in child labour has declined by one third since 2000", the numbers are not exact but despite this decrease they still remain far too high.
In 2012, CNNâ€™s Freedom Project showed that over 200,000 children still were working on the cocoa plantations â€“ in CĂ´te dâ€™Ivoire alone. A report from the Human Rights Watch in May 2014 found that child labourers in the US are picking tobacco in the heartland of America - young workers, American citizens, aged 10 to 17, labour long hours in the tobacco fields of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. The precise number of children in the US working is unknown, but the HRW report estimates itâ€™s in the hundreds of thousands.
As the world cup kicks-off today, we also mark the World Day Against Child Labour. The World Cup in Brazil has brought another aspect of child labour to light: child prostitution. Young girls and boys from the favelas, often already addicted to drugs, are recruited from these areas and are taken to larger cities - World Cup cities - to sell themselves to the tourists to earn extra cash, sometimes for themselves but also for the gangs that traffick them. The age of consent in Brazil is 14, young by many standards, however prostitution under the age of 18 is illegal.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) urges its member States to pursue the goal of the effective abolition of child labour by committing themselves to the elimination of all worst forms of child labour by 2016.Their latest campaign, â€śRed Card to Child Labourâ€ť gives a voice to the worldâ€™s children who cannot speak for themselves. Join the global movement to end child labour by signing up for ILOâ€™s Thunderclap social media event and join the #RedCard campaign and share the global message: All together against child labour!
On 12 June, on the International World Day against Child Labour, the campaign will be launched worldwide with an original song, 'Til Everyone Can See, by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger and violinist Ann Marie Simpson, with featured artists Travis Barker, Minh Dang, Dominic Lewis, LIZ, Pharrell Williams, and Hans Zimmer. Everyone who joins the Red Card to Child Labour campaign will be able to download the song on 12 June.
Sebastien Pensis is currently an intern at the United Nations Regional Information Center (UNRIC).