World Day Puts Spotlight on Vulnerable Girls

A number of events are being held across Cambodia today to mark World Day Against Child Labor, an annual event organized by the International Labor Organ­ization to highlight the enduring problem of child labor in the developing world.

The theme of this year’s World Day has been labeled “Give Girls a Chance,” an exhortation for nations to focus on the additional hardships that young female laborers face.

According to a newly released ILO report, girls are particularly vulnerable to abuse because they tend to have less access to education than boys, and because they often perform “invisible” work in domestic settings.

“Much work undertaken by girls is hidden from public view, which creates particular dangers,” the report reads. “Girls make up the overwhelming number of children in domestic work in third party households….”

A 2007 study commissioned by rights group Licadho and Christian aid agency World Vision Cambodia found there are over 21,000 child domestic laborers working in Cambodia, Bun Ying, a communications officer for World Vision, said by telephone on Thursday. Many of these children are physically or sexually abused, Mr Ying added. “When [children] are working at a home, it’s indoors, and if an employer intends to abuse them, it’s hard for them to find support,” he said.

With these issues in mind, the ILO is sponsoring a televised roundtable discussion and a “Children’s Rally” with rehabilitated child workers singing songs that they’ve written about child labor.

A variety concert designed to draw awareness to child domestic labor will also be held in the Kompong Cham provincial stadium this evening. Jointly organized by Licadho and WVC, the show will center around the theme, “I protect children: Do you?”

“We would like all of the people in the community and the government to join together to protect against the worst forms of child labor,” Ham Sunrith, Licadho’s Deputy Director of Monitoring and Protection, said by phone on Thursday.

The concert will feature performances by comedian Chas Cheam; famous singer and all-around “beautiful woman” Khat Sokhim; and pop musician Khemra Serimun, who is “most attractive to the teenagers,” Mr Sunrith said.


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