News / Africa

Despite Bans, Child Labor Prevalent in Nigeria

Boy loads gold rocks into a crushing machine at a local goldmine in Bagega village, northeastern state of Zamfara, Nigeria, Aug. 14, 2013.
Boy loads gold rocks into a crushing machine at a local goldmine in Bagega village, northeastern state of Zamfara, Nigeria, Aug. 14, 2013.
Iliya Kure
Ten years after Nigeria adopted international prohibitions on child labor into law, millions of children in the country are still engaged in child labor activities.
 
The International Labor Organization estimates that about 25 percent of Nigeria’s 80 million children under the age of 14 are now in the work force.
 
Most of the children are involved in domestic work such as cooking, gardening, collecting water, caring for other children and household cleaning.
 
Amina, 13, is one of them. Her father died when she was 10 and her mother gave her away when it became impossible for her to maintain a household in the northern city of Kano. Amina now works there as a household helper.
 
Talking about her experience, Amina gives a rundown of what she does on a typical day: "I wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning and start my day by fetching water for the house from a well in the neighborhood. I fill a drum with the water, and by 6 a.m. I have to bathe the two children of the house and prepare them for school.
 
"After that, I then wash plates and sweep the house," she said. "When the children are gone to school and my masters gone to work, I wash the children's clothes and cook lunch for them before they return from school."
 
"Sometimes I go to the market and buy things for the house, and anytime I get it wrong I am severely beaten, as if I am not a human being,” Amina said, adding that she hopes for the opportunity to attend school herself, and escape the hardship of manual household labor.
 
Girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, Aug. 4, 2009.Girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, Aug. 4, 2009.
x
Girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, Aug. 4, 2009.
Girl hawks drinking water packed in sachets along street after days of religious clashes in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, Aug. 4, 2009.
While Amina is working in a city, many other children are taken to farms where they work long hours weeding in gardens or cultivating crops. Still others become roadside hawkers or collect firewood.
 
Roadside hawking is especially popular for young girls, many of whom help supplement the family income. Many of the girls report being raped.
 
Movement to end practice
 
The prevalence of child labor is raising concern among activists who are calling for new programs and tougher laws to control the problem. Among them is the Nigeria-based League of Democratic Women, which has become a key actor in efforts to end child labor in the country.
 
"Those subjected to child labor are under the control and mercy of their masters, as they rarely have access to education and are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse," said Abel Adejor, a League official who called better parenting the key to addressing the problem.
 
"Every parent is responsible to provide for the needs of their child until they reach maturity," he said, noting that three girls recently rescued from forced labor were all under the age of 12.
 
Not all states on board
 
In 2003, Nigeria passed a Child's Rights Law that was designed to incorporate into its laws all the rights guaranteed in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. convention, adopted in 1959, states that: “The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He ... shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.”
 
Though the U.N. convention was signed by Nigeria as a nation and its provisions incorporated into federal law, it was not incorporated by all of Nigeria’s 36 states. For that to happen, the Houses of Assembly of each state must pass it into law. As at now, 24 of the 36 states have done so.
 
All but one of the states that have not incorporated the U.N. convention into its local laws are in northern Nigeria, where child labor is common.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs