From Adeparua Damilola
I ONCE attended an event that lasted until late at night. When she returned home around 8:30 a.m. there was this young girl, about 10 or 11 years old, who frantically ran to haul in cars to sell her bag of water regardless of a possible accident that could probably end her life much less of the possibility of being kidnapped or raped, but how many of those children must then have been killed or actually kidnapped, raped or trafficked in a car accident?
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, almost one in ten children worldwide is exposed to child labor, some of which are forced into dangerous work through human trafficking.
Child labor is not alien to every Tom, Dick and Harry in this part of the world, because to say that it is practiced in Nigeria is nothing but an understatement, but in the real sense it is not just typical of Nigeria as you see it and practiced in other parts of the world, albeit at different levels and percentages.
The advent of COVID-19 has led to an increase in child labor. Statistics show that around 160 million children were exposed to child labor in early 2020, with nine million more children at risk from the effects of COVID-19.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the term âchild laborâ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, potential and dignity and damages their physical and mental development.
It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and / or adversely affect their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; oblige them to leave school early; or ask them to try to combine school attendance with excessively long and hard work.
The worst form of child labor is when children are enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious danger and disease, and / or often left to their own devices on the streets of big cities at a very young age.
According to Wikipedia, child labor refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with school attendance, and is psychologically, physically, socially and morally harmful.
As claimed by a source, child labor can manifest itself in the form of slavery or similar practices, child trafficking, forced recruitment in armed conflict, sexual exploitation, drug production and trafficking or other illegal acts, bondage, dangerous work that can cause injury, or moral corruption .
The ILO’s latest global estimates of child labor show that Africa has the largest number of child laborers; It is estimated that 72.1 million African children are in child labor and 31.5 million in hazardous work.
Another source suggests that the majority of children working below the legal age limit (72 million) live in Africa, followed by Asia (62 million). According to the United Nations, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a child.
In ancient times, African men married many women in order to have numerous or even innumerable children, as is evident in some cases. These children are needed for nothing but helping them as laborers on their farmland, and such men were considered wealthy and influential because of the profits they make from their children’s hard labor.
Unfortunately, even after the advent of Western education, some of these parents are still involved in the practice and many children are still experiencing the effects of archaic culture today.
Apart from the mentioned cultural origin of child labor, what about the special religious belief that promotes child labor? According to a source, the Almajirai begging system is a type of begging for alms that is widespread in northern Nigeria and specifically practiced by Muslim children. In this region, Muslim families send their children from their homes to the larger cities to live and receive a Koranic education from Islamic teachers called âMalamsâ.
These children are called almajirai. According to estimates by the Committee of Ministers for Education in Madrasah in December 2010, there are approximately 9.5 million Almajirai in Nigeria. Standard Islamic law states that the almajirai need only ask their host community for food when they are hungry and go back to the classroom when they are full.
Unfortunately, these teachers âMalamsâ turn the children into professional beggars by forcing them to beg for money on the street and to do other subordinate work for money from morning to night and to hand over the proceeds (money).
The outrageous part of it is the fact that many of these children follow strangers to strange and dangerous places that could likely endanger their lives to beg for alms, and this is what makes research, as posited by a source, possible Children who are on the move are at risk of being forced to work or even be subjected to human trafficking, violence, abuse and other human rights abuses
One of the causes of child labor is poverty. As unemployment rises, poverty results, which explains why there are so many professional beggars on the streets.
Parents who have even one or two children can hardly feed them, let alone many children, and since these parents cannot look after their children, it makes sense for the children to do the child labor themselves. Even in ancient times, poor African parents who were in debt used their children as collateral!
Even free education is not necessarily available to everyone. Many children who are interested in an education either go to work early in the morning before school to get their study materials and also to pay their school fees. Until now, the government continues to promote free education, which is actually not free.
Many parents cannot even afford the advertised free education and end up keeping their children busy with child labor. Still, the majority of leaders enjoyed free training with other benefits associated with their time.
Research has shown that 30 million children live outside their country of birth, increasing their risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation and other work. The size of the family also leads to child labor.
Africans love to marry many women and have many children who they cannot support or factory workers.
In addition, a broken family can lead to child labor. Many people part only with their interests and not worry about the well-being of their children, who may be taken to a distant place or to relatives who do not enroll them in schools because they cannot properly care for them or which they involve in child labor for their personal gain.
What about the orphans who have no one to assist them, should be the responsibility of the government, but are left alone to wander aimlessly and are kidnapped or sold for child labor?
Child labor can be minimized if there is an active government that has people’s interests in mind. Some of these children work to make a living. As the government promotes free education, they should make sure that education is actually free and non-governmental organizations, NGOs working for poverty alleviation should be fully supported.
Most importantly, Africans should put aside their archaic beliefs, such as marrying many women who will have many children for whom they will not be able to and raise children in order to have workers.
Additionally, parents should keep their children’s interests in mind when filing for divorce because they are indeed the future leaders and if we do not train them properly we may end up with a false future.
Damilola, a social commentator, wrote about: [emailÂ protected]
Avant-Garde News Nigeria