Mod­er­ate progress seen in ad­dress­ing child la­bor de­spite lack of gov’t pol­icy, so­cial pro­grams

-US la­bor bu­reau finds

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS -

Guyana made a mod­er­ate ad­vance­ment last year in ef­forts to elim­i­nate the worst forms of child la­bor, but the gov­ern­ment lacks a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy or tar­geted so­cial pro­grams to fully ad­dress the ex­tent of the prob­lem, a re­cent global re­port says.

The 2016 Find­ings on the Worst Form of Child La­bor, pro­duced by the United States De­part­ment of La­bor’s Bu­reau of In­ter­na­tional La­bor Af­fairs, notes that gov­ern­ment re­formed the In­ter­Min­is­te­rial Task­force on Com­bat­ing Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons, be­gan de­vel­op­ing a Na­tional Ac­tion Plan and Pol­icy on Child La­bor last year, and fi­nal­ized the 2017–2018 Na­tional Ac­tion Plan on Com­bat­ing Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons.

“How­ever, chil­dren in Guyana con­tinue to en­gage in the worst forms of child la­bor, in­clud­ing in min­ing and com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, some­times as a re­sult of hu­man traf­fick­ing,” it says.

Law en­force­ment agen­cies, it adds, have in­suf­fi­cient fund­ing and ca­pac­ity to en­force laws re­lated to child la­bor, in­clud­ing its worst forms, and leg­is­la­tion does not fully pro­tect chil­dren. “More­over, the Gov­ern­ment does not have a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy to com­bat child la­bor or tar­geted so­cial pro­grams to fully ad­dress the ex­tent of the prob­lem,” it says.

This re­cent re­port sup­ports oth­ers that have pre­vi­ously said that child la­bor con­tin­ues to be a prob­lem in Guyana.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, which was handed over to Min­is­ter of So­cial Pro­tec­tion Amna Ally last week, the 2014 United Na­tion Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) Mul­ti­ple In­di­ca­tor Clus­ter Sur­vey (MICS) sur­vey, which was re­ported ex­ten­sively in this news­pa­per last year, had stated that 18% per­cent of Guyana’s chil­dren be­tween the ages of 5 and 17 are en­gaged in child la­bor.

The sur­vey had also found that 10% are in­volved in eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties above the age­spe­cific thresh­old, 1% per­forms house­hold chores above the age-spe­cific thresh­old, and 13% work un­der haz­ardous con­di­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, it noted that both boys and girls are en­gaged in child la­bor, with the in­volve­ment of boys, mea­sured at 20%, just slightly higher than the in­volve­ment of girls, which was mea­sured at 17%.

The US re­port says Guyana has leg­is­la­tion for chil­dren but it does not fully pro­tect ado­les­cents ages 16 and 17 from en­gag­ing in haz­ardous work. It points out that ado­les­cents ages 16 and over are al­lowed to per­form cer­tain work re­quir­ing con­ti­nu­ity through the day and night, in­clud­ing gold min­ing re­duc­tion work and the pro­duc­tion of iron, steel, glass, pa­per, and raw sugar, with­out pro­vi­sions to en­sure that their health safety, and morals are fully pro­tected, or the spe­cific in­struc­tion or train­ing needed for such ac­tiv­i­ties.

The re­port also says that chil­dren, in­clud­ing girls as young as 12, are in­volved in com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in Ge­orge­town and in the in­te­rior. It adds that there have been re­ports of girls be­ing sub­jected to com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in min­ing com­mu­ni­ties as a re­sult of hu­man traf­fick­ing.

“Guyanese law does not suf­fi­ciently pro­hibit all com­mer­cial sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren as laws re­lated to pornog­ra­phy and porno­graphic per­for­mances do not pro­hibit the use, procur­ing, and of­fer­ing of a child for each of these pur­poses,” it fur­ther states.

The ab­sence of child­sen­si­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion pro­ce­dures, which puts chil­dren at risk of reprisal, is also high­lighted in the re­port.

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