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Children Endure Widespread Violence At Work

UN Labour Agency Report Finds Children Endure Widespread Violence At Work

New York, Nov 23 2006 4:00AM
Millions of children face systemic violence in their workplaces, ranging from physical or verbal abuse to sexual harassment, rape and even murder, according to a landmark new report from the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO).

The report, published yesterday to mark Universal Day of the Child, prompted the ILO to call for zero tolerance of violence against children in the workplace. It represents the UN’s most comprehensive study of the issue, the ILO said.

The hidden nature of much child labour means accurate figures can be hard to obtain, but the report estimated that there are 218 million child labourers and some 100 million legally employed adolescents.

Some categories of child workers are considered most vulnerable, especially domestic workers, youth in the informal or ‘black’ economy, children in debt bondage and modern forms of slavery, such as human trafficking. Those children engaged in hazardous work, such as in mines, plantations or glass factories, must put up often with lax or non-existent health and safety regulations.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said violence is “a terrifying fact of daily life” for too many child labourers.

“Worldwide, violence at work is generally on the increase and violence against children and adolescents who work is endemic, and in some cases just ‘part of the job.’ This must stop,” he said.

The report recommended a comprehensive programme of measures to tackle the underlying economic and cultural causes of child labour and to promote education and alternate livelihoods, as well as social mobilization to change attitudes about violence against children in the workplace.

The International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the largest single operational programme of the ILO, spent more than $70 million on projects in 86 countries last year.


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