With 215 million children working throughout the world, one of the most abhorrent forms of child slavery is found in mining and quarrying, according to United Nations independent human rights experts.
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian today reported that children working in this sector, the majority of whom are boys, “are treated as commodities and face particular physical, psychological, economic and sexual exploitation.”
Ms. Shahinian cites that during on her country visits, she hase seen how unscrupulous employers to take advantage of children’s small physique for artisanal mining which results in their stunted growth.
In artisanal mining, Ms. Shahinian reveals that both boys and girls handle highly toxic chemicals to extract minerals exposing them to irreversible health damages.
She adds that physically demanding work the children are subjected to in such circumstances.
In addition, reports show that with the current economic crises there is more reliance on commodities such as gold, a demand that caused to the increase of boys and girls working in mines and quarries.
On the event marking the World Day Against Child Labour, two United Nations independent human rights experts highlighted that of the 215 million children working throughout the world, more than half are subjected to the worst forms of child labour.
The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid reports that sexual exploitation of children is a serious human rights violation.
Ms. Maalla M’jid notes that although the whole international community have undertaken, via the ratification of international and regional instruments and other initiatives to combat child labor, the sexual exploitation of children in countries of all regions persists and reaches sometimes alarming levels.
She urges States to fulfil their responsibility to protect, rehabilitate and reintegrate victims, provide reparation for damage caused to children, penalize those responsible, change certain social norms, and ultimately prevent this phenomenon.
According to ILO, new estimates released on 1 June showed that some five million children are caught in forced labour, which includes conditions such as commercial sexual exploitation and debt bondage.
The ILO asserts that true cost of gold mining on Africa has pushed children under the age of 18 to constitute up to 30%-50% of the entire small-scale gold mining workforce.
ILO reports that gold mining in poor communities is sweet for gold traders but bitter for children.
The price of gold reportedly will never equal the cost of brain damage, contaminated communities, and the impacts of child labor.”
ILO recently released a report which identified about 115 million of children working in hazardous works and mining considered as one of the hazardous workplaces for children. More than half of the working children were clinically diagnosed with severe mercury intoxication.