Child Labor Laws in Africa

Written by sydelle john
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Introduction
  • Introduction

    Child Labor Laws in Africa

    South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria have domestic laws prohibiting the use of children for labour and are signatories to international agreements preventing child labour. Unfortunately, children across the African continent are still forced to work. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 69 million children are child labourers. These children work in a variety of areas from helping their parents on farms to begging in the streets.

    Child worker (child vendor image by Living Legend from Fotolia.com)

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    South Africa

    In 1996, the "Labour Force Survey" determined that 847,000 South African children were being used for child labour. That same year, the use of children as labourers on farms was outlawed. In 2008, government authorities pledged to tackle the use of a growing one million child labourers through the Child Labour Programme of Action (CLPA) document. The objective of the CLPA was to reduce by 80 per cent the number of children whose education was adversely affected by working; reduce the number of children performing hazardous work by 90 per cent; and reduce by 80 per cent the number of children living more than five minutes from a source of drinking water, so as to reduce excessive work related to fetching water. In addition, South Africa has specific laws banning the use of children under the age of 15 as domestic workers, in the private security sector, in the wholesale and retail sector, and as farm workers. There are also specific laws regulating the employment of children of all ages in the performing arts. South Africa signed and ratified the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

    South African fllag (South Africa image by bluefern from Fotolia.com)

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    Kenya

    In 2008, it was revealed that two million Kenyan children were child labourers. This despite the fact that in 2001, Kenya's Children Act, which banned the use of child labour, became law. Kenya's Penal Code punishes the abuse of children. The Constitution, however, does not specifically guarantee children's rights. Kenya signed and ratified the International Labor Organization's Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (Convention 182) which defined the worst forms of child labour and specifically prohibits them. Convention 182 lists slavery, child trafficking, labour, prostitution and pornography as some of the worst forms of child labour. Kenya is also party to the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

    Kenyan flag (kenya flag icon. (with clipping path) image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com)

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    Ghana

    This nation's Children's Act was established in 1998 and defines a child as any person under 18 years of age. Sections 12 and 87 prohibit using a child in any work that deprives that child of his or her health, education or development. Unfortunately, despite the law's existence, a lack of adequate implementation means that children continue to be used for labour and many rights guaranteed to children are violated. In September 2009, for instance, seven out of 33 cocoa farming communities were suspended from a fair trade cocoa co-op after being found using the worst forms of child labour. Ghana is party to the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and although the Ghanaian constitution does not specifically prohibit child labour, it ensures a child's right to protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards.

    Ghana's flag (ghana flag icon. (with clipping path) image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com)

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    Nigeria

    Nigeria is party to multiple international treaties on child labour including International Labour Organization conventions, the West Africa Cocoa Agriculture Project, and Sections 28 and 29 of the Child Rights Act. Despite this, the country, with a population of over 150 million, reportedly has 10 million child beggars in Northern Nigeria whose parents make their children ask for alms instead of going to school. Like Kenya, the country signed and ratified the International Labor Organization's Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, (Convention 182). Nigeria is also party to the Africa Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

    Nigerian flag (Nigeria flag icon. (with clipping path) image by Andrey Zyk from Fotolia.com)

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