Oh, what can I do?
It is so dark ahead of me.
Mother and father do not want us.
They sell us to thugs.'
The words of a child in South Africa, originally written as a poem in the Xhosa language
Every day millions of children in Africa are at risk of being exploited, resulting in slave-like working conditions. Their childhood is forever lost.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations (UN), Africa has the world’s largest child labor population, with the agriculture and mining sectors among the worst offenders. Poverty is cited as the primary reason for forced child labor in Africa. The problem is severe in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 40 percent of all children aged 5-14, about 48 million children, work for survival, according to the ILO. Child trafficking for the purpose of labor is common throughout the continent. Family members often exchange children for money, goods or gifts.
According to the UN, in expanding economies the demand for labor increases. Unable to cope with high production quotas, industries turn to exploitative child labor. “Children and teenagers enter the risk of being used as cheap labor,” a UN report states. “Most of these children are vulnerable due to poverty. They are unaware of their rights, overworked, can’t resist.” The report said these children are employed with low or no wages, poor living conditions, hazardous work environments, no healthcare and little to no education opportunities.
“Forced labor robs children of a childhood, which in turn negatively affects their ability to be constructive members of their communities for the rest of their lives,” explains Mark Hatfield, Africa Director of Baptist Global Response, a humanitarian aid and relief organization. “Forced child labor deals a mental blow to the individual child, taking away his ability to dream about a future outside of his present status.” Hatfield says. “Children forced to work before they reach a reasonable age limits their future capabilities by taking away their right to a basic education, which can be the springboard out of poverty. Child labor perpetuates the poverty cycle by keeping the child in a low income, subsistence-only status all their lives.”
In ‘Not for Sale’ David Batstone writes: “There are more slaves today than at any other point in human history. Our mission is to create a world where no one is for sale.”
This too is the mission of Socialist Banner - to end wage slavery - that will not come about by christian charity, but by only ending the capitalist system.
We however ask the exact same question as the article: “The question is, what are we going to do about it?”