Covid – 19: The place of a child in the world today

The effect of the Covid – 19 pandemic is taking its toll on people and businesses. Children are not left out and as such are more vulnerable. This pandemic has forced the highly vulnerable children into child labour and other vulnerable more or highly vulnerable at present.
Statistics from International Labour Organisation(ILO) shows:
· Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment. Among them, 152 million are victims of child Labour, almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour.
· In absolute terms, almost half of child labour (72.1 million) is to be found in Africa, 62.1 million in the Asia and the Pacific,10.7 million in the Americas, 1.2 million in the Europe and Central Asia.
· Almost half of all 152 million children victims of child labour are aged 5 – 11 year
Child labour is work that is performed by a child which is likely to deprive them of their rights to education or that is harmful to their health, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
Child labour is a crime prosecutable under national and international law.
· Child labour in agriculture
· Commercial sexual exploitation of children
· Child labour and domestic work
· Migration and child labour
· Street traders
· Trafficking in children
· Agriculture (Cocoa farming, Rice farming, milling, harvesting and post – harvesting)
· Minning and quarrying
· Textile
· Construction (production of building materials)
· Factories where goods are manufactured and packaged.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) have some conventions or laws within its constitution that regulates the labour of adults and children and defines who a child is and also some other international laws and national laws.
· The ILO minimum age convention. 1973 (NO 138) (Ratification)
It sets the general minimum age for admission to employment or work at 15 years (13 years for light work and minimum age for hazardous work at 18 years (16 years under certain strict conditions).
It provides for the possibility of initially setting the general minimum age at 14 years (12 years for light work) where the economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed.
· ILO Worst Forms of child labour convention 1999 (NO 182).
It defines a child as a person under 18 years of age. It requires ratifying states to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child.
A child is every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable, majority is attained earlier.
This is an ideal instrument of safeguard for children wherever they are in the world.
It spells out the civil, political, social economic and cultural rights of children and the responsibility of state parties to enforce these.
The African Charter on the Rights and welfare of the child 1990. Article 2, 15(1)
A child is every human being below the age of 18 years”
Child Rights Act. Sec 28-30
A child is a person under the age of 18 years.
Section 59 of the Labour Act
No child shall be employed or work in any capacity except where he is employed by a member of his family on light agricultural, horticultural or domestic character approved by the minister or be required in any case to lift, carry or move anything so heavy as to be likely to injure his physical development.
Child labour laws are statutes placing restrictions and regulations on the age, the type of work children can do, when children can work and how much employers have to pay them.
Child labour is work that is performed by a child which is likely to deprive them of their rights to education or that is harmful to their health, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
Child labour is a crime prosecutable under national and international law.
· To protect the emotional, psychological well – being, health and safety of children.
· To ensure that children are not unduely taken advantage of to gain profit.
· To reduce poverty. Child labour is correlated to higher rate of poverty. It interfers with children’s ability to get education.
The government has established institutional mechanisms for enforcement of laws and regulations on child labour.
The federal child’s Rights Act (CRA) codified the Rights of Children in Nigeria and has been domesticated by some states and has become laws in its territory. Some states have already domesticated the Child’s Right Act.
Today as we mark another day of the WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR, a day launched by the International Labour Organization to raise awareness and activism to prevent child labour, let us bear in mind the plight of the vulnerable children as aggravated by the Covid – 19 Pandemic and what befalls such children during and after this pandemic period and the way we can ameliorate the situation for a guaranteed future for the vulnerable children.
As a result of Covid – 19, Child labour became a means through which poor homes coped with hunger and related issues.
Increase in parental mortality due to the pandemic also forced children and will force more into child labour including the worst forms of labour if we do not rise up on a rescue mission.
Temporary lockdown of schools may have permanent implication on children from poorest and vulnerable homes who do not have access to any form of digital technology that aids the online learning explored by some schools and governments in reaching out to children during this period, as they battle for survival.
Due to the global rise in poverty as a result of this pandemic, many children have been forced into child labour.
· Ensure that the types of work determined as hazardous for children are prohibited by law or regulation for all children under 18 years.
· Ensure that using and offering a child for the production and trafficking of drugs are criminally prohibited in all states.
· Strict adherence and enforcement of the child labour laws regulations by Investigating, prosecuting and convicting those guilty of child labour.
· Ensuring all states adopt programs to offer free and compulsory education and expand existing programs that provide funds to vulnerable children.
· Establish and expand programs that remove children from child labour in agriculture and quarrying.
· Create interventions that help to provide safety, security and stability to the children’s lives and reduce their exposure to circumstances traditionally associated with risk of child labour such as:
– Foster care for children living in violent circumstances.
– Legal interventions and representation of children that are victims of child labour.
– Counseling and running programs to empower parents to protect and provide for their children.
– Job training and income opportunities for parents so children can stay in school.
· Providing support services for working children and giving palliative measures like feeding schemes, literacy programs can be used.
· Raising public awareness – This includes improving child knowledge of work hazardous, raising parental awareness of the human capital loss that may be associated with child labour and changing the emphasis on policy makers.
In conclusion, child labour deprives children of their present most likely their future, the effect of the pandemic has increased the rate of child labour as more children have become vulnerable. This evil can be eliminated by bringing to bear the various ways each one of us can be participants in providing a safe place for the child in order to have a bright and guaranteed future.
Deborah Enyone Oni (Esq)
Principal Patner Hilton Top Solicitors
E-mail –