1.4 million child workers in Malawi – report

by Chancy Namadzunda |  AfricaNews

Lilongwe, Malawi — A report on labour standards has shown that there are 1.4 million child workers in Malawi especially in tea plantations and domestic servitude. The Malawi Ministry of Labour report indicates that the situation is worse in the rural areas than in provincial town. “41 percent of children younger than 15 years of age were working part of full time, while 78 percent of rural children between 10 and 14 old worked at least part time in their parent’s farms.

“Most of the child labour is found in tobacco farms, herding cattle, fishing industry, street vending and domestic servitude, particularly for girls,” reads part of the report.
Village headman Gomani, Traditional Authority (TA) Simphasi in Mchinji district where there are a lot of tobacco farmers concurred with the report saying most of the children work to support their poverty stricken families.

“These are children born from very poor families whereby their parents even fail to provide them daily food. They don’t even dream of going to school because they know that they cannot go further than primary school because of resources shortage,” he sad

The reports also indicate that the problem of street children, mostly orphans whose parents died from HIV/AIDS has increased.

It adds that many boys are trafficked for working in tobacco and plantations and animal herding while girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation or work in bars and restaurant as well as domestic servitude.

“The 150 labour inspectors of Malawi do not have competence to prosecute offenders against child labour legislation, for which they have to request interventions from police who are hindered in their efforts by lack of resources,” adds the report.

According to the report, government spent more than US$2 million in 2008 to eliminate child labour, in order to intensify labour inspections, raise awareness through campaigning and community action and provide agricultural assistance and money transfers, particularly to rural families.

It says Malawi participates in the ILO-IPEC project which from hazardous work in agriculture and in domestic servitude and prevented 3, 942 children from being employed.

In an interview, Foundation of Irrigation and Sustainable Development Moses Chirambo, whose organization is implementing a programme to eliminate child work and trafficking, said the tendency is deep-rooted in the rural areas because of high illiteracy rate and poverty.

According to Chirambo, the project themed; “Inclusive sustainable child labour and trafficking reduction in Southern Africa” is being financed by the Help a Child Organization from Netherlands, is being carried out in five border districts of Malawi which are the source, recruitment and transportation centers.

“People from these areas have no knowledge as to what child trafficking is all about. Parents are easily tricked by some people that they will offer the children some work but they end up into forced prostitution and criminal gangs.

“We want to sensitize them on the dangers of giving out their children without knowing exactly where they are being taken to,” said Chirambo. Read more

Source: AfricaNews

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