Gov’t Called Upon to Stamp Out Child Labor

The government must make more of an effort to not only eradicate child labor, but also its underlying causes, and ensure that children attend school, local rights group Licadho said Thursday.

In a statement released ahead of World Day Against Child Labor, the group said the issue could seriously hinder a child’s development, right to education and dignity.

“Child labor not only exploits children, but is itself a symptom of broader societal problems,” said Licadho director Naly Pilorge in the statement.

“Specifically, authorities remain slow to implement and enforce labor-related laws and regulations. This has to change.”

Last year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said more than 10 percent of 430,000 Cambodian children between the ages of five and 17 could be defined as child laborers.

As recently as March, a Chinese-owned sugar plantation in Preah Vihear province was under investigation amid claims it was using at least 20 children between the ages of 10 and 15 in its fields.

According to the Labor Law, even though the minimum age of employment is officially 15, light work can be undertaken by children from the age of 12, as long as they still go to school.

The ILO has found, however, that 48 percent of children who work drop out of school.

Map Somaya, director of Friends International’s Mith Samlanh program, said just because the “labor” involved may not be considered hazardous in the legal sense, does not make it any less of a risk to the child.

“‘The worst and most common forms of child labor that we see here in Phnom Penh include scavenging, selling flowers/souvenirs, washing cars/motos, shining shoes, manual labor/construction, porters, cleaning and selling snacks in restaurants,” Ms. Somaya said.

“Many of these are dangerous, because the children are on the streets alone, there is risk also of traffic accidents and they are often working late at night, which is more dangerous and not good for their health.”

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