One of local organisations championing the rights of children in the country, Eye of the Child, has called on people that procure services from children to stop, as a way of reducing cases of child labour.
Eye of the Child executive director Maxwell Matewere noted that with reduced procurement of services from children, the situation could change.
“Let us all be responsible. Child labour kills the future of our children and that of the country. It sustains poverty and promotes violation of children’s rights. It affects children’s development, education and health and it is very risky to them. It also traumatises and affects their mental health,” he pointed out.
Visiting Zambia for meetings to strategise anti-child trafficking, the child rights activist learned about boys recruited every year by agents from Malawi to work in farms in Chipata.
“Mchinji has arrested and convicted a number of agents who have been found with children from Dedza and Dowa trying to cross the border using unmonitored channels,” Matewere said.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Simon Mbvundula attributed to poverty, the rising rates of child labour in the country.
“Malawi has made little progress in reducing poverty levels which is the fuelling agent of child labour, and it is no wonder the problem remains a serious one,” he said.
Mbvundula said the country has made strides in the formal sector more than in domestic settings in reducing the levels of child labour.
“It is important to note that most of the child labour is in the domestic sector and mostly in the children’s own homes as it includes unpaid family labour where the children help with household chores, on family gardens, and other things.
“This calls for intensification of civic education and raising of awareness so that parents avoid giving work that amounts to child labour to their children. Child labour cases in paid employment or the formal sector of the economy are very few,” he indicated.
Children are often recruited in child labour as nuns, street beggars, vendors, brick moulders, sand miners and prostitutes.
“Children in prostitution are mostly recruited by older prostitutes who themselves think that they are no longer marketable. The older prostitute will phone a client about the girl and after the abuse, the girl gets K5 000-K10 000 if it’s in Lilongwe or Blantyre and she will give it to the older prostitute,” Matewere explained.
The World Day against Child Labour is commemorated internationally on June 12 every year but Malawi commemorated this day yesterday, on June 24.