Child labor an ‘open secret’

| May 16, 2018

Disturbing patterns of child exploitation pervade the tobacco fields of Africa, leaving young people in rural areas poisoned for life while tobacco brands fuel the world’s deadliest habit, according to a story by Michelle Chen for the Nation, citing Human Rights Watch (HRW) research.

Through field research during 2017, HRW investigators were said to have discovered that children 12-17 years old were regularly employed during the harvesting and processing seasons in Zimbabwe, and that workers of all ages were ‘pushed to work excessive hours without overtime compensation, denied their wages, and forced to go weeks or months without pay’.

Young people were particularly vulnerable, reported Chen, because tobacco picking was not officially regulated as dangerous work for children in the country, despite the clear health and social threats linked to child farm labor.

Although multinational corporations bore special responsibility for labor violations, which hit both wage laborers and smallholder farmers, HRW said ‘the government and tobacco companies are failing to ensure that workers have sufficient information, training, and equipment to protect themselves’.

Chen reported that, unlike in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, which had made strides in eradicating child labor, in Zimbabwe such exploitation remained an open secret because of corruption and incompetent regulation.

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Category: Breaking News, Leaf, People, Regulation

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