Friday, August 15, 2014

Should a 10-Year-Old Child Be Allowed to Work?

There are 13 million (8.8%) of children in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean -International Labour Organzation's latest report on Child Labor

Child labor already exists, and it is difficult to fight against it. Rather than crack down on it, we want to guarantee children’s labor security so that, step by step, we can eradicate [child labor] in the next five years. For that reason the law includes necessary safeguards in labor, health, and education rights. -Bolivian Sen. Adolfo Mendoza.
Image for ILO's Football Resource Kit
On July 17, 2014, the Bolivian Congress approved the Código Niño, Niña Adolescente, which lowers the minimum age at which children can work—to 10. The governing Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) defended the decision by saying it reflects what for "innumerable" families is simply a fact of life.

Is this a pragmatic decision or does it further entrench a practice that the global community believes is unacceptable?

The Bolivian Congress believes that children are having to work by necessity, and that any prohibition against having children as young 10 years old participate in the workplace would be counterproductive, particularly when this practice has taken place for generations. The legislation recognizes that low-income Bolivian children will and must work. And if this is going to happen, they have to have protections.

While the arguments of Bolivian legislators and President Evo Morales might merit strong consideration, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) believe that the standards were set for a reason: to provide a framework to eradicate the practice of child labor. "One of the most effective methods of ensuring that children do not start working too young is to set the age at which children can legally be employed or otherwise work," the ILO says in a report on conventions and recommendations on child labor. Read more about this issue from Andrés Gaudín in this week's edition of NotiSur,

Here is the ILO's latest report on recent child labor trends.  Here is the ILO's Football Resource Kit on using football (soccer)  in child labor elimination and prevention projects.  And here is what UNICEF says about child labor.

Also in LADB this week...
Other Issues involving Youth and Children
If you have been following the ongoing coverage of the surge in the number of unaccompanied minors fleeing from Central America to the US, Ben Witte-Lebhar offers us the perspective from El Salvador in  this week's edition of NotiCen.

In NotiSur, we look at youth from a totally different perspective. Greg Scruggs tells us why Brazil's newest potential voters, those aged 16 and 17, have chosen not to register to vote in record numbers.

Health-Related Matters
We also covered children from a broader-health related perspective in this week's newsletters.  In NotiCen, Louisa Reynolds examined how Latin American countries are dealing with the problem of obesity in a region where (according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO)  23% of the adult population and 7% of preschoolers are overweight or obese.

In SourceMex, we wrote how a chemical spill into the Sonora River forced environmental and health authorities to declare an environmental emergency in seven cities. 

International Hero or Corrupt Fugitive?
Our other article in SourceMex reported on the latest effort to bring fugitive miners' union leader Napoleón Gómez Urrutia back to Mexico. There are two sides to Gómez Urrutia.  Even though he has been accused of embezzling US$55 million from the union, he has been reelected as secretary general on numerous times. And international labor organizations have given him awards for his efforts to shine the light on corporate greed and inadequate safety standards for miners in Mexico.

-Carlos Navarro
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