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Progress worldwide against child prostitution and pornography too slow

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Both developed and developing nations are not doing enough to end abuses of child labor, including child prostitution and pornography. As such, the International Labor Organization, or ILO will not meet its goals for 2016 to stop the worst excesses of forced child labor worldwide. 

LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, speaking in Brasilia, Brazil, "We will not meet the 2016 target and that is a collective policy failure. We have to do better." Ryder addressed the opening ceremony of the Third Global Conference on Child Labor. A declaration scheduled for the end of the conference is expected to call on member nations to renew efforts to eradicate child labor.

The number of child workers has fallen by a third to 168 million since 2000. Despite this progress, nearly half of them are still trapped in the worst kinds of activities: sex workers, bonded labor, recruits for the drug industry.

"If current trends continue, by 2016 at least 65 million children will still be working in hazardous conditions," Jo Becker, child rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch says.

Agriculture is currently by far the biggest employer of children, accounting for nearly 100 million, 59 percent of the total. There has been slow improvement in this area. Service sector employment has grown to 54 million children, more than 20 percent of them domestic workers. Industry employs 12 million child laborers, most of them in the informal economy.

One of the most difficult forms of child labor, domestic work is among the hardest to eradicate. Activities such as cleaning, cooking, caring for the elderly or for other children and working on small family farms are often not considered work, Becker said.

Countries that have made the most progress in this arena have implemented social programs to give cash to poor families so there is less need for children to work have made the most progress in reducing child labor.

Brazil reduced the number of child workers, aged between five and 13 years of age to 554,000 in 2012 from 704,000 in 2011 by using income distribution programs for poor families. These program encourage families to send children to school, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told the conference. She cited data from the national statistics institute IBGE.

While child labor has declined in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years, there are still 5.7 million working girls and boys who are under the minimum age for employment. Many are engaged in occupations that must be abolished according to the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention No. 182.

While the Asia-Pacific region has the largest absolute number of child workers, 78 million, but sub-Saharan Africa is still the region where child workers form the biggest percentage of the population - 21 percent.

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