The world of forced child labor is more real and more horrific than you can even imagine. Most of us, at one time or another, have joked about the child laborers that fill stores like Wal-Mart with products, for the wage of .02 cents per hour. For many of the world’s children, it’s no laughing matter.

Children as young as 6 years old are forced into harsh labor, sold into work by their parents, for a mere $20 a year. Pocket change for a 12 month venture, by any American standards. The New York Times tells the heart breaking story of six year old Mark Kwadwo, weighing only 30 pounds and sold into being a boat hand. He works from before dawn until after dusk, most days not even receiving a meal. He will work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for about the next four years for a sum total of probably $80, sold into the labor by his parents.

Africa is not the only nation plagued with a problem of child labour and trafficking. UNICEF classifies the problem as, “a global problem affecting large numbers of children. Some estimates have as many as 1.2 million children being trafficked every year.” Trafficked children are ripped from their home environments and forced into hard labor or sexual exploitation. UNICEF also estimates that an additional 246 million children are engaged in child labour, with the vast majority working in agriculture. The International Labour Organization (ILO) says that, Child labor ranges from four-year-olds tied to rug looms to keep them from running away, to seventeen-year-olds helping out on the family farm.”

This atrocious abuse of human rights, imparted upon the world’s most innocent victims, must be confronted head-on and stopped. I understand that life in other countries, particularly third-world areas, is vastly different from life here in the US. I have seen first-hand the poverty in other areas of the world. The constant hunger and basic needs depravation others live in is heart breaking. However, there must be another answer other than child labour and child exploitation. This type of abuse should shock the entire world and move people to action. No child should be torn from their family or chained to their work station, forced to grow up without parents, without education and without proper nutrition. Add child labour and trafficking to yet another item in the long list of world injustices and inequalities.

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