- Published: November 19, 2022
- Updated: November 19, 2022
- University / College: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
- Language: English
- Downloads: 7
Child labour has been, globally, a universal topic – widelydiscussed throughout national history. Due to modern day development, technological enhancement and greater societal demands, labour in youngerchildren has substantially become one of the most leading political aspects. Mostopinions towards this subject have been critical, heavily disapproving the ideaof young children providing for households and families and jeopardizing theirlives. However, it may also be argued that those who criticise only verballyexpress their dismay, rather than physically act in order to resolve the issue. Throughout this essay, low income countries and child labour within them will be explored, as well asthe different forms of child labour – presenting and comparing examples ofSouth American countries.
Governmental responses will be analysed and writtenof – to introduce the effects of child labour on the economy and society ofdifferent nations. Conclusively, a personal statement will be provided, inorder to summarise the impacts of the concept and give first-hand opinions, toextensively answer the question ‘ Is goldmore precious than children?’Child Labourin South America: Paraguay – Based inCentral South America, the low income/developing country Paraguay is, yet, another nation struggling with poverty, shortage and, as a result, childlabour. Even thoughchild labour has significantly decreased in South America and The Caribbean, itis still considered a major dilemma, acting as a restriction to the nation’sdevelopment and international status. With over 5. 7 million underage childrenworking, the majority of which work in agriculture and farming, South Americahas thousands of children engaging with extremely hazardous working districts, including mining, fishing, fireworks manufacturing and several others. Paraguay isone of the countries attempting to reduce the problem, making substantialefforts to eradicate child labour – or at least put an end to severe cases oflabour – distinctly in more rural areas of the country – in 2016.
With close to250, 000 working children, from ages 10-17, the country is only beginning toaddress this complication – for, not only is labour such a high risk to thelives of children, but it is also hindering the education of young individuals. As well as this, production and harvesting of sugarcane is one of the maintasks children receive. Studies and observation show that there areapproximately 50 sugarcane farms – where children contribute tosugarcane-related activities daily.
Compared toactivities such as agriculture and working in factories, Paraguay features amuch less amount of children engaging with gold mining. It could be argued that- not are there only scarce mineshafts for children – but experienced, matureadults are hardly known for mining much gold or other minerals in the country. Although there is much potential for the countries mining companies andextractive industries, there are limited numbers of such establishments – whichmay seem anomalous for a South American nation, as Paraguay’s neighbourcountries – particularly Brazil – are some of the world’s largest providers ofminerals such as gold and raw materials. There havealso been many protests and social uproars – particularly following the deathof 14 year old girl – a servant to retired soldier Tomás Ferreira – CarolinaMarín, who was beaten to death in January 2016 – and is an example of childlabour and abuse in Paraguay. Ferreira, found directly responsible forCarolina’s death, is now serving 15 years in prison – as guilty of murder.
Followingthis devastating event, the government of Paraguay may have decided to presentchange to the country. Although it may require much time, effort andresilience, the civilians of Paraguay may be one step closer to the eliminationof child labour and the difficulty it brings. This leads us back to thequestion ‘ Is gold more precious thanchildren?’ suggesting that countries such as Paraguay are making efforts toterminate these activities and render children more precious and important.
Child Labourin South America: Suriname – Suriname, situated in theNorth-Eastern coast of South America, is an example of a country where small-scalechild gold mining occurs. A 2009 study recorded that miners within Surinameproduced a total of 16. 5 tons (1) –which exceeded the total of large-scale mining industries. This clearly impliesthat, as well as risking their lives, small-scale miners are coerced to remainconcealed from society, earning their few dollars daily, as their findings are, essentially, transferred to higher companies and industries – yet, societycredits the latter, rather than the former. It may be argued that we have beenmade oblivious to the truth, as consumers hardly question where the suppliedthey purchase initially originate from.
Legal definitions within Surinameof the words Youth and Children are: ‘ Persons whohave reached the age of 14, and not yet the age of 18 years’ (2) and ‘ In general, persons who have not yetreached the age of 14.’ (3)Children are being exposed to dust and debris – whichmay be very harmful for their health, as they are at the stage of developinginternal systems. As well as this, due to low income, the country is unable toprovide immunity or vaccinations for common diseases caught through dust suchas ‘ diffuse fibrosis’ – an internal lung disease, related to dust exposure, which may result in further health issues and risk of chronic illnesses. Poorventilation and deficient cleanliness may result in overexertion andexhaustion. This may lead the children to become somnolent and drowsy – again, increasing the hazard of potential accidents and fatalities, as poorlymaintained mines are already proven to have the risk of collapsing.
Contamination may also occur, due to chemicals such asmercury involved. Children are known to work full time in mines, and, iffortunate enough to afford lunch, would most likely bring food or some form ofnutrition to the shafts with them, allowing chemical vapour to enter the foodand, again, present the potential hazard of contamination. Additionally, children even breathe in impure air – full of toxins and chemical matter, aswell as dust – whilst risking death from hazards such as tunnels collapsing –to the extent of explosions caused by minerals coming into contact with heat.
Suriname, alongside other South American countries (forexample, as mentioned earlier, Paraguay), has made many efforts to prevent theworst forms of child labour – signing many treaties and contracts throughoutthe years, which address child labour and protect children from the hazardousforms of it. However, unlike Paraguay, this country has not been assubstantially successful at reducing labour – and, although it is a working anddeveloping process, is expected to invest more effort and money to, firstly, progress in terms of economy, secondly, provide destitute families andhouseholds with financial support and, finally, begin to effectively eliminatechild labour in certain areas. Personally, I believe that the first step towardssuccess is to create a strong protocol, approved by citizens and thegovernment, addressing children of poor households to acquire education andschooling – a protocol permitting young children to receive as little as theirconstitutional rights. As well as this, children below the minimum age of16-18 should be rendered as not physically, nor mentally capable of working. Education is considered a necessity in the young ages; where one would travelto school and study bases to receive teaching in developed countries, childrenin low income regions would travel to spend, yet another, strenuous anddemanding day at work. PovertyAffecting Child Labour – Known as themajor cause of child labour, poverty has settled in, more or less, everyhousehold within low income countries. Young, inexperienced children – oftender ages – are compelled to work in dangerous conditions and districts –with barely any money to afford suitable clothing to wear.
There is notolerance for resistance – no endurance or regard for the young lives whichcould, potentially, be destroyed. The children are expected to accept theseconditions, and most do, with great fortitude – however, many, in the process, lose their lives due to the suffering. Of course no parent would want this tobecome of their child – but society and class changes the quality of nurture a parentcan provide. Lower classparents lack capacity to present their households with what they would believeto be luxuries; where an upper class parent would purchase games and toys fortheir child, lower class parents would be constrained to, basically, ‘ sell’their child away for several hours – mining and working, just for the sake of acouple of dollars. Studies have shown that approximately 170 million children, worldwide, are engaging with forms of child labour (3)– and over half of them are involved in hazardous labour (4).
These statistics are mostly constructed by low income regions– such as Africa, South America and partially Asia. Conclusion – Personally, I have been unaware of such torment, and have become greatly disappointed anddistressed after coming to know of the relatively undisclosed aspects of childlabour. Modern society has only learned to present the benefits: enhancedfamily business, lower production fee and advantageous for economy, it seems asif economical requirements have become more prioritised than the several livesof innocent children – jeopardising their young lives by entering mine shafts, haulingsacks of cobalt and heavy material – staggering beneath the weight of heavypacks that they must carry to unload from long distances. Pleasing thegovernment and providing consumers have suddenly become the foremost concerns -regardless of the child miners living hell on Earth, deprived oftheir natural human-rights. Therespiratory disease – cobalt lung – is extremely dangerous and can lead tolifelong disabilities, as well as incapacity and, in several cases, death. Thisinfection is a kind of pneumonia, and may cause severe choking and coughing, significantly, in children of a delicate age. The fact that this disease wasnamed after cobalt, clearly illustrates the hazard presented by the element. The most concerning factor is that underage children are engaging with thischemical element on a daily basis; desperation and impoverishment has causedsuch circumstances to fall upon families.
Children participating with goldmining involuntarily come into contact with cobalt – therefore, this hazardcannot be disregarded. Livesand efforts prove to be futile, as families are struggling to survive in suchconditions – with a daily payment of one to three dollars, it may be a matterof just minutes, and households would lose young members. There are severalunlisted deaths, with bodies – bygone and forgotten, buried somewhere withinthe depths of the mine shafts, amongst the rubble and debris. Inside active themine shafts, countless fatalities may take place – any survivors would facepermanent incapacity or terminal diseases, ruining the rest of their lives. Children as young as seven years of age undertake this purgatory lifestyle androutine; involved in fatal activities, without the assistance of protectiveclothing or modern machinery. This all occurs, just so that the privileged areable to live lavishly, embellishing their lives with gold and jewellery.
.. If theproducers perish then what will the consumers expend? Ultimately, the indigentwill succumb.
After all, how long can they persevere?
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