During the pandemic, child labor and trafficking on the rise globally

By India Parent Magazine

Picture Courtesy: PTI
"Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!" is the theme for World Day Against Child Labour 2019

According to a report of UNICEF in its worldwide study of children and schools at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools closed their doors in 192 countries, sending 1.6 billion students home.

Today, almost nine months since the corona virus outbreak started, 872 million students – or half the world’s student population – in 51 countries are still unable to head back to their classrooms. 

Millions of these children were fortunate enough to learn remotely — online, through radio or TV broadcasts, or otherwise but many do not have access to online study program, many are taking up low level daily jobs to earn cents, often risking their lives, as they work without masks and gloves.

UNICEF data shows that, for at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such thing as “remote learning.”

At least one-third of the world’s schoolchildren were unable to access remote learning when COVID-19 shuttered their schools. Including because of a lack of Internet access, computers or mobile devices.

The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is nothing short of a global education emergency. 

One of the top countries that face the child abuse issue includes India whose poor kids from ages 6 to 14 spend their days rummaging garbage for recyclable plastic that will fetch their families’ pennies. According to a report in NDTV young girls are married off in haste to get some quick money in Northern states of UP and Madhya Parades.

United Nations officials estimate that at least 24 million children will drop out and that millions could be sucked into work

Ten-year-olds are now mining sand in Kenya. Children the same age are chopping weeds on cocoa plantations in West Africa. In Indonesia, boys and girls as young as 8 are painted silver and pressed into service as living statues who beg for money, reports New York Times.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore urges the world leaders to take the issue with dire emergency that it begs. 

"Let me share one more alarming – and new – statistic: UNICEF recently surveyed 158 countries about their school reopening plans and found that 1 in 4 countries has not put a date in place for allowing schoolchildren back to the classroom. We know that closing schools for prolonged periods of time can have devastating consequences for children. They become more exposed to physical and emotional violence. Their mental health is affected. They are more vulnerable to child labor and sexual abuse, and are less likely to break out of the cycle of poverty. For the most marginalized, missing out on school -- even if only for a few weeks -- can lead to negative outcomes that last a lifetime,” she urges.