More than 215 million children in the world are working. Over half of them are subjected to worst forms of child labour, such as sexual and labour exploitation.
These facts were highlighted on 12 June 2012, the World Day against Child Labour by two United Nations experts on contemporary forms of slavery and sale of children.
“One of the most abhorrent forms of child slavery is that found in mining and quarrying, in which children start work from the age of three,” said the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian.
"Children are treated as commodities"
“Children, the majority of whom is boys, working in this sector are treated as commodities and face particular, and in some cases a combination of, physical, psychological, economic and sexual exploitation not found in other areas where children work.”
The human rights expert noted that recent reports show that with the current economic crises there is more reliance on commodities such as gold. “This demand has increased the numbers of boys and girls working in slavery like conditions within mines and quarries.”
Irreversible health damages
“During my country visits, I have seen how unscrupulous employers take advantage of children’s small physique for artisanal mining which results in their stunted growth. In artisanal mining, both boys and girls handle highly toxic chemicals to extract minerals exposing them to irreversible health damages,” she noted.
For the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, “the sexual exploitation of children is a serious human rights violation which gravely compromises the integrity, health and development of children, as well as the full enjoyment of their rights. Sexual exploitation of children has a long-lasting impact on the victims.”
Read the full UN Press Release Labour and sexual exploitation: two things to keep in mind today on World Day Against Child Labour.
Learn about Save the Children's work on child labour.