ANEX CDW

Activists Networking against the Exploitation of Child Domestic Workers

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Child Labour


Child Labour is Still Missing from the Agenda PDF Print E-mail
Written by Doreen Gaura   
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 09:01


Child labour continues to exist in countries around the world including South Africa and yet people are still not talking about it and this makes addressing and combating it all the more difficult. It is often sidelined for what one can only assume are issues considered to be more “exciting” or pressing such as human trafficking, child abuse and youth development, all the while negating the fact that it is intricately linked to the afore mentioned issues and much like them, it is just as important and as urgent.

Child labour is defined by the national Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA) as:

… work by children under 18 which is exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for their age, detrimental to their schooling, or their social, physical, mental, spiritual or moral development.

The term ‘work’ is not limited to work for gain but includes chores or household activities in the child’s household where such work is exploitative, hazardous or inappropriate for their age or detrimental to their development. Not all work is harmful to children however. In fact, some work is considered appropriate and beneficial to their development.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 June 2012 09:34 )
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Our Country is Throwing its Children, and their Rights, to the Wolves PDF Print E-mail
Written by Doreen Gaura   
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 00:00

It appears our children are still not safe in South Africa in spite of the various pieces of legislation that are in place to protect them. Crime stats, released by the SAPS in November 2010, reveal that attempted murder against children rose from 782 to 1 113 and murder from 843 to 965 with the reports from child welfare organisations that there has been an increase in the number of abandoned children.

Given that these stats were announced by the Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities at the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign last year and the preceding cases in the news of the Jules High School pupil who was allegedly raped by fellow pupils and the Pretoria family running a child pornography ring, one couldn’t help but be disheartened at the commencement of the campaign.

Violence comes in many shapes and forms and the exploitation of children is one of them.

One only has to stop at a traffic light in Pretoria to be momentarily entertained by young boys with painted faces dancing for money, or go to a rural settlement in KwaZulu Natal and find children walking terribly long distances in search of firewood or water or stumble out of a night club in Long Street in Cape Town to be greeted by a child begging for money.

Violence comes in many shapes and forms and the exploitation of children is one of them. One only has to walk into a house to find young girls and boys being enticed or coerced into domestic servitude; or stop at a traffic light in Pretoria to be momentarily entertained by young boys with painted faces dancing for money; or go to a rural settlement in Kwazulu Natal and find children walking terribly long distances in search for firewood or water or even gaily stumble out of a night club on Long Street in Cape Town to be greeted by a child begging for money instead of being at school or just enjoying their right to enjoy being a child.

These are just some of the examples of child labour that everyone in this country has either witnessed or perpetrated without considering them a violation and exploitation of children and one needs only refer to the national Constitution, the Children’s Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act or the South African Schools Act to know this.

The more sinister forms of child labour - appropriately termed Worst Forms of Child Labour by the International Labour Organisation of which South Africa is a member state - are commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) which includes child prostitution and child pornography and Children used by an Adult or older child to commit a Crime (CUBAC).

An applicable example of CUBAC, in the South African context, is the recruiting of children into gangs or children being used to either traffic or sell drugs or as look outs for criminals.

The Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) fact sheet on The Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) states that there are between 38 000 and 40 000 child prostitutes in South Africa and that more than 250 000 children in the country live on the streets. Although there are no actual figures as to how many children are trafficked and/ or exploited annually, statistics show that an average of 1500 children go missing in South Africa every year.

South Africa may not necessarily be considered a child sex tourism or trafficking hot spot, particularly in comparison to other countries but the reality of the trafficking and consequent exploitation of children are blatant and undeniable.

When people are trafficked it is most often for labour or sexual exploitation and on the most part, trafficking in South Africa is internal and children are trafficked from rural areas to urban areas or even other rural areas for exploitation and the most common case is that of domestic work. Immigrant children, especially those that have refugee or asylum status also find themselves working to contribute to the family’s economic income and survival.

Last year, the media also reported on the cultural practice most common in the Eastern Cape known as Ukutwala where young girls are abducted and forced into marriage. This practice, however much one may want to justify or defend it, is a violation of children’s rights - yet it is still practiced and honoured in our communities. Young girls are sold off by their families to become wives to older men and the duties they are then forced to perform can and do result in, amongst other things, child labour and physical and sexual abuse.

There are various issues that contribute to the prevalence of child labour in this country but they by no means pardon it. These are poverty, unemployment which sky rocketed as a result of the recession, migratory and demographic considerations, HIV and AIDS which may result in child headed households with the older sibling bearing responsibility for the survival of the family and lastly cultural and societal norms and practices which are heavily patriarchal and perpetuate gender disparities.

Also the lack of legislation in South Africa around trafficking, in spite of the government ratifying the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress & Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women & Children in February 2004 - along with porous borders make South Africa a perfect transit and destination point for trafficking children for labour and other forms of exploitation.

People need to stop turning a blind eye or burying their head in the sand. Anyone under the age of 18 years is by law considered a child and should be awarded the right to live as such without fear and we are all obligated, by law, to report any abuse or exploitation of children.

Last Updated ( Monday, 02 April 2012 11:31 )

Legislative Reform

Children’s Act

The Child Care Act of 2005, which reformed the Child Care Act of 1983 aims to bring child care legislation in line with our obligations to the Constitutional and International Law such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

During the law reform process parliament was advised that the Act be split into two sections, namely: a section 75 bill which deals with national competencies related to children's rights and a section 76 bill which will deal with provincial competencies.

Anex CDW made submission on section 75 of the Act. Our submissions were directed at chapter 9, which contains legislation governing child labour and chapter 18, which deals with the trafficking of children.

By-Law

Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Nuisances

Anex CDW formed part of a coalition of civil society organisations that lobbied against the passing of this by-law because it would address the symptom of social inequality and not the cause. This by-law would give the municipality the power to clean up the streets and this would impact on the harassment of children living and working on the street.

Trafficking Bill

Currently there is no comprehensive legislation that criminalizes trafficking in persons. Legislation that contains prohibitions against the trafficking in persons is the Children’s Act of 2005 and the Sexual Offences Act. The law reform process started with the Issue Paper in 2004, the Discussion Paper 2006 and the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill in 2006. The bill has finally been submitted to parliament.

Anex CDW has made submissions to the bill  on every stage of the law reform process advocating for the recognition that children are trafficked for the purpose of labour and for the focus to extend to internal trafficking.