Child labor risks are rising around the world, including in supply-chain countries, according to a new report from Maplecroft.
The number of countries where entrenched underage work practices pose “extreme risks” to children has jumped 10 per cent in the year to 2012, to include 76 of the 197 nations studied. Even the US, ranked 141st, is said to represent a “medium risk”, alongside Cuba, Georgia and Kuwait.
The global hike, which Maplecroft attributes to a deteriorating security situation worldwide and increasing financial desperation in the wake of of the 2008 meltdown, could have legal and reputational implications for companies that source goods from the developing world. Major suppliers like the Philippines, India, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil are some of the worst child labor offenders.
A map of child labor risk across the world :
The countries wih the most extreme child labor risk :
Nearly 60 per cent of Ethiopian children are put to work to supplement family income, earning about a dollar a month. Most toil as domestics, farm hands and in the nation’s poorly developed gold mines
Children continue to be abducted, rented, bought and sold in Pakistan, where Nike was famously accused of exploiting lapse underage work laws for the production of soccer balls. Most of the labor offences occur in the nation’s Punjab province, which is a global supplier of stitched rugs, musical instruments and sports equipment.
Almost a quarter of all children aged 4-15 are said to be involved in child labor, including slavery, in the small East African nation of Burundi. The large number of youths engaging in heavy manual work in Burundi’s agricultural, mining and brick-making industries held steady in 2011, but there was a rise in child prostitution.
In Afghanistan, where children make up half the population, more than 30 per cent of primary-school aged children go to work in cement, textile and food processing industries, or in the poppy fields. A growing number of underage girls are also being given away to repay debts, according to Maplecroft.
A large number of Zimbabwean children work, unofficially, in the country’s chrome, diamond and gold mines. A popular program dubbed Learn as You Earn has also encouraged child labor in the forestry and agriculture sectors, often at the expense of a formal school education.
5. Democratic Republic of Congo
Labor conditions in the DRC came into focus during the Beijing Olympics, when it was reported that some of the iron ore used to construct China’s stadiums was mined by hand by children in the central African nation. Maplecroft says child labor accounts for about 30 per cent of mining activity in the DRC.
In the war-torn nation of Sudan, in North Africa, children are commonly recruited as child soldiers, or to be used for forced labor on farms. Young girls are also seized and put to work as underage sex workers, or even slaves.
Sudan and the following three countries are in a class of their own for child labor risk.
Close to 40 per cent of all children under 15 under are put to work in Somalia, where they engage in the worst forms of child labor, according to the UNHCR. As well as being used in armed conflict, as bodyguards or sex slaves within militias, children frequently work with dangerous equipment in the agriculture sector and in quarries.
2. North Korea
In North Korea there have been numerous reports of child ‘re-education through labor’, where youths are placed in labor camps as punishment for political offences. Although the country’s secretive government has officially outlawed underage work, school children can be seen working in factories and fields
In Myanmar (Burma), where 40 per cent of children never enroll in school, the Burmese army recruits youths as young as 12 years old. Those who don’t serve as soldiers or military porters are often forced to labor on farms, run street markets or collect rubbish in the streets. Suicide is common among the worst treated.