The use of child labor and forced labor remains widespread around the world, despite some progress and ongoing efforts to eradicate the practices through education and public and political pressure, according to the latest “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs.
The report assesses efforts by more than 140 countries to reduce the worst forms of child and forced labor and reports whether countries have made significant, moderate, minimal or no advancement from year to year. It also suggests actions they can take to eliminate the practices through legislation, enforcement, coordination, policies and social programs.
“This report shines a light on the estimated 168 million children around the world who toil in the shadows — crawling underground in mine shafts, sewing in textile factories or serving in households as domestic workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “We are seeing more countries take action to address the issue, but the world can and must do more to accelerate these efforts. When children are learning rather than working, families flourish, economies grow and nations prosper.”
Thirteen countries received an assessment of significant advancement, compared with 10 countries in last year’s report. Perez also said that the department will be awarding $7 million to Winrock International to implement a global project to support countries, including Burkina Faso and Nepal, that want to improve their capacity to combat child labor.
The countries on the list span every region of the world. The most common agricultural goods listed are cotton, sugar cane, coffee, cattle, rice, fish and cocoa. In the manufacturing sector, bricks, garments, carpets and footwear appear most frequently, and in mined or quarried goods, diamonds, coal and gold top the list.
In cotton growing and cultivating, countries named for using child or forced labor or both are Argentina, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Paraguay, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zambia.
Countries cited for using child or forced labor in garment manufacturing are Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Jordan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. In textile manufacturing, countries named were Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal and North Korea. In the area of diamond and gem mining, countries cited are Angola, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, India, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
The report is mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000. Since 1993, ILAB has produced reports to raise awareness globally about child labor and forced labor and has provided funding for more than 275 projects in more than 90 countries to combat the worst forms of child labor.