Child labour concerns during SWC

2010-05-11 19:04

Pretoria - The World Cup could see an increase in child labour linked to the "economic bonanza" that will accompany it, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) representative Aida Girma said on Tuesday.

"There is little experience in organising major international sporting events in settings where the number of poor and vulnerable children are so high," Girma said at the launch of a report on child labour.

She said many children could be drawn by the excitement and the possibilities of earning money and were vulnerable to exploitation.

"Criminal syndicates may thrive during such events and target children in order to fulfil the perceived increase in demand for prostitution and drugs which the event is expected to bring."

Protection systems

Unicef and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) would contribute to strengthening child protection systems.

Their programme would strengthen procedures and protocols for response to children in need, provide a safe haven in dangerous situations, and establish child-friendly spaces at four of the FIFA fan festivals.

These would be in Soweto, Sandton, Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit.

The organisation would also promote adherence to the international code against commercial sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism as well as raising awareness.

"The risks associated with the World Cup are symptomatic, not only of high levels of vulnerabilities of children in South Africa and in the sub-region, they are also symptomatic of weak prevention and response systems," said Girma.

Decrease and increase

According to a global ILO report, the 222 million child labour cases before 2004 decreased by 3% to 215 million between 2004 and 2008.

Progress was greatest among children between the ages of 5 and 14, where the figure fell by 10%. The number of children in this age group doing hazardous work fell by 31%.

Child labour among girls also decreased 15%, but among boys it increased by 7%.

There was a 20% increase in instances of child labour involving children between the ages of 15 and 17.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest number of child labourers, there had been a 28.4% increase with one in four children reportedly involved in child labour.

Agriculture, followed by the service sector and industry were the key areas of employment.