Children working in tobacco fields

| May 26, 2016

Thousands of ‘children’ in Indonesia are being exposed to hazardous conditions on tobacco farms where they work as laborers, according to a story in The Jakarta Post citing a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that was released yesterday.

HRW based the report on interviews with 227 people, including 132 child workers, aged eight to 17.

Under Indonesian law, 15 is the minimum age at which people can work, though children aged 13 to 15 may do light work that does not interfere with their schooling or harm their health and safety. The law prohibits children under 18 from doing hazardous work, including that conducted where harmful chemicals are used.

In its 119-page report titled ‘’The Harvest is in My Blood: Hazardous Child Labor in Tobacco Farming in Indonesia’, HRW reportedly lambasted Indonesian-based and multinational tobacco companies that buy Indonesian-grown tobacco but do nothing significant to ensure that children are not engaging in hazardous work on the farms within their supply chains.

The report documents how child workers, some eight years old, are exposed to nicotine, handle toxic chemicals, use sharp tools, lift heavy loads and work in extreme heat, which all could have long-term consequences on their health and development.

The group urges tobacco firms to reject suppliers that use child labor involving direct contact with tobacco, and calls for government regulations that will hold companies accountable for the involvement of children in the industry.

“Tobacco companies are making money off the backs and health of Indonesian child workers,” said Margaret Wurth, a HRW children’s rights researcher and co-author of the report.

The report was based on field research in four provinces, including the three major-producing regions that make up almost 90 percent of the country’s tobacco production: East Java, Central Java, and West Nusa Tenggara.

Category: Breaking News

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