16 April 2011

Child Labor in the Philippines

Working Child
The International Labor Rights Forum, a nonprofit organization advocating for humane treatment of workers, estimates there are 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 laboring in dirty, dangerous jobs around the world.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the majority of the world’s child laborers are employed in commercial agriculture, where they are exposed to many health and safety hazards.

In the Philippines, for example, children work on sugarcane, tobacco, banana, coconut, cornflower and rice plantations. Others work in pyrotechnics production, deep-sea fishing, mining and quarrying. Some scavenge garbage dumps or beg; still others are domestic servants or forced into prostitution.

In its most recent annual report on the subject, the U.S. Department of Labor found that even though many countries have laws against exploiting children, enforcement is hindered by corruption and a lack of trained child-labor inspectors. But some governments are increasing enforcement efforts. The government of the Philippines, for example, rescues minors from exploitative labor as part of its Rescue the Child Workers Program.

The United States has worked aggressively to combat the exploitation of children. In fiscal year 2007 alone, the U.S. government spent US$ 50 million to help governments and nongovernmental organizations worldwide with programs to prevent or withdraw children from exploitative labor and to provide the children with educational opportunities. Several million dollars went to the Philippines.

In 2007, a US$ 5.2 million program with the International Labour Organization’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour was able to withdraw more than 19,000 Philippine children from exploitative labor and prevent more than 11,000 other minor children from entering the work force.

In September 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded an additional US$ 5.5 million to World Vision to support a Philippine government project to withdraw some 18,000 children from exploitative labor and prevent more than 11,000 minors from becoming laborers.