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Child Labor in Malawi - 2002-02-28

The organization, Eye of the Child, is expressing concern about what is says is a large number of children who are being forced to work due to poverty. It says these children risk being abused.

Some under aged children work as mini – bus call boys in the busy business district of Limbe in the commercial capital, Blantyre. They are some of the many children who have been forced into employment because of poverty.

Maxwell Matewere is the executive director of Eye of the Child. He says many of the children come from rural areas. He says, “Currently we haven’t done a data analysis but the Ministry of Labor intends to do that as soon as possible with financial resources from the International Labor Organization. But basing on our own assessment and through our works, we feel child labor is a serious problem particularly in the rural areas and you can tell that from trafficking of children from rural areas to urban areas where most of the young people are working in people’s houses. “ Mr. Matewere says poor children often find work on large farm estates. He said, “We have noticed that there are some indications that there are children who are working in tea estates and tobacco estates. There also are children who are working in brick making mostly their parents will facilitate for them to work in those kinds of employment. “

Mr. Matewere says the Eye of the Child has established that there are gross violations of children rights in the country. These include, rape, defilement and being overworked. He says this violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. “If you look at the Convention of the Rights of a Child,” he said, “you will see that it provides for the protection for children from any kind of exploitation from any kind of harmful activities or act which threatens their health, their development which is a threat to education. So children who are found working in tea estates, who are found in brick making, obvious, their rights as it is provided for in the Convention for the Rights of the Children as well as in the constitution are violated. “

The Eye of the Child executive director says his organization is looking at ways of protecting the rights of a child. He says to achieve this, the group has started a number of programs. “We have recently started a new program and what we are trying to do is to inform the general public on the best interests of the child and to inform them on the rights of a child. At the same we want also to build up the capacity of the children themselves so that may be they can be use their authentic voice out their concerns. “

According to the Ministry of Labor authorities, many children are forced to leave school and find work because parents cannot afford school fees. Although primary school is free in Malawi, most children do not attend due to lack of necessities like clothes. Over 60 per cent of Malawi’s nearly 11 million people live below the poverty line.