March Puts Spotlight on Child Labor Campaign

Hundreds of human rights act­i­vists, child protection workers and Kandal province officials marched through Mok Kampoul district Fri­day to draw attention to the risks children run working in brick factories, officials said.

Thav Kimsan, child rights coordinator for Licadho, said the 3-km march was part of a larger effort that also includes educational television spots that began airing Thursday.

Mok Kampoul district is home to about 60 brick making plants, Thav Kimsan said, adding that since 2000, at least 11 children have lost an arm in brick making machinery in the district’s Bak Kheng and Prek Anhchanh communes alone.

Deputy District Governor Pov Sam­beau said that local officials have been disturbed by the accidents, and are working with Licadho to boost awareness of the issue.

The campaign was not trying to eliminate all work by children at brick factories, Thav Kimsan said, but just limiting it to less dangerous tasks like carrying bricks. “Not all work has negative im­pacts on children,” he said, adding that Licadho has noticed that brick factory owners are becoming more conscious of child safety and are increasingly prohibiting children from working or playing in dangerous areas.

MP Joseph, chief technical adviser to the International Labor Organi­zation’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, said that children working in brick factories has been determined to be among the worst forms of child labor in Cambodia.

He added that strong economic growth, and the resulting construction boom, has led to an increased demand for bricks, and consequently a probable increase in the number of children working at these facilities.

“Child labor in brick plants is certainly not a decreasing factor, but stands a chance of increasing,” he said.

The government is working on this issue and employers and trade unions are becoming increasingly cooperative as well, he added.

(Ad­ditional reporting by John Maloy)

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