Protecting our children

Fred Wesley | Monday, June 12, 2017
The Education Minister, Dr Mahendra Reddy, believes when children are neglected or unattended, they fall victims or become vulnerable to issues of child labour and child abuse.
Fred Wesley
Fred Wesley

It may be a feeling shared by thousands of people around the world.

The issue, however, hovers on those who do not share the thought.

That is when children are exploited, and forced to work to earn a living or contribute to putting food on the table for their family. Understandably there are various other reasons why this happens.

As our report on Page 2 today points out as Fiji joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Day Against Child Labour, the minister is calling on parents to ensure their children attend school every day.

Be part of their schooling process, he says, and save them from exploitation or child labour.

Parents, he said, must supervise their children and protect them from all forms of ill-treatment, exploitation and suffering.

He said the 2013 Constitution clearly stated and defined the rights of children.

Today is a day set aside to observe World Day Against Child Labour.

The International Labour Organization says globally over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are affected by conflict, violence and fragility.

It says, at the same time, around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year. A third of them are children. A significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster.

The World Day Against Child Labour this year will focus on the impact of conflicts and disasters on child labour. The ILO launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 "as a way to highlight the plight of these children".

It is a day set aside to observe the campaign against child labour around the globe and this is reflected in the "number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment".

The ILO says the day "provides an opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women's groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour".

The fact that we know we aren't immune to this level of exploitation should be incentive enough for us to do something about it.

It is important that we first understand what child labour is and we work to ensure our children are given an opportunity to develop to their full potential.

Acceptance of this fact is the first step towards fighting it, and that should be good for Fiji.

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