12 June 2014 – Football is played everywhere from professional stadiums to schoolyards, from slums to posh suburbia, and enjoyed by young and old alike. Football is the world’s most popular sport, yet as millions gather to enjoy the World Cup, countless children across the world will not have the time to watch a single game - they’ll be hard at work. That chocolate you so like, that cigarette billowing smoke next to you, those new edition shoes you see on children’s feet…all might be the fruit of tiny hands’ labour.
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 isn’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 “employs” 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, CNN’s Freedom Project showed that over 200,000 children still were working on the cocoa plantations – in Côte d’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 it’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 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, “Red Card to Child Labour” gives a voice to the world’s children who cannot speak for themselves. Join the global movement to end child labour by signing up for ILO’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.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
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