Child labour in Zambia: An appraisal of the extent and impact on the child

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Mwanza, Nukwase Hilda
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Child labour is a phenomenon that has been common in Zambia for the last two decades and is even more rampant today. It is said to be the extent to which work is injurious, negative or undesirable to children. It is done in slavery-like conditions and is exploitative in nature. Statistics show that in 2005 alone, an estimated 1.23 million children below the age of 18 were "economically active" and still on the rise. In addition, a larger proportion of these children come from the rural areas where socio-economic problems are the norm. Poverty, HIV/AIDS and illiteracy of household heads pushes these children out into the market to earn an income. Cultural factors also play a role in child labour incidence. Children are engaged in hazardous work and exposed to loud noise, dangerous gases and fumes, heavy loads, high temperatures and long working hours for meager wages, considering their vulnerability. This has an impact on the health of the child. The child is exposed to prostitution and some other physically demanding work such as excavation and work in processing industries. This affects the child physically, psychologically, socially and mentally.The child is prevented from going to school and getting a basic education. Performance levels of those in school are affected. It interferes with a child's ability to go to school and attend classes. The child is also at risk of HIV/AIDS, which happens to be one of the push and pull factors of child labour. Monitoring child labour is a challenge due to limited resources and other technicalities. There is need to give more voice to address the crisis with an efficient mode of monitoring the occurrence of the trend. Although child labour has been recognised as a problem by the international community and locally, the figures are alarming and there is urgent need to narrow the statistics and control the vice. The Employment of Young Persons and Children Act, Chapter 505 of the Laws of Zambia is explicit about working children. In addition to this Act are other international conventions such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 138 on elimination of child labour and the ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour. It is hoped these instruments in conjunction with approaches in other countries may be incorporated, in formulating an effective mechanism to prevent and abolish child labour.
Child Abuse , Children-Employment-law and legislation