SAVE MY CHILDHOOD, FOR A BETTER TOMORROW

By Constance Ndeleko

In accordance with article 53 of the Constitution, every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labor.

Under provisions of Employment Act, a child under the age of 16 years can’t be employed. Children between the ages of 13 to 16 years may perform light work only. Employment of child under 13 years of age is prohibited.

However, it is contrary in most places in Kenya. How many times do we allow child labor amidst ourselves and yet we presume and assume that it is not happening? It is upon us to ensure that we safeguard our children from this despite the living condition.

We know as a society child labor is happening more often than we think of yet, we tend to hide it in the shadows terming it as helping the aunt, uncle, grandparents, friends or even the parents. We are forgetting the fact that these children need to be shielded from hard labor.

According to Children Act, every child (under 18 years) has to be protected from economic exploitation and any work that is likely to be hazardous or interferes with the child’s education, or is harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development

It is sad and very sorrowful finding that children are let or allowed, even forced to work in mine fields, where they are exposed to different health hazards and more so these are places prone to chemicals thus jeopardizing and risking the life of the child. Well ,I bet to understand that life is hard sometimes and some circumstances force children in to this type of work but then as a society we are failing on this ,depriving the child his/her right to be in school to get education.

On many occasions we let these children do the work that is not even close to their ages like harvesting sand, working on the tobacco farms, quarries as they don’t understand they are being misused and rundown of their right as children for the sake of helping the family. They need to be treated like children even when life is hitting hard.

Rather than it being child abuse, it is absurd that some parents even force their children in to sexual abuse where they get to work as prostitutes in the name of feeding the family. No child under any circumstance should be put into this form of slavery and it is unacceptable and shameful act to the society that sometimes we let it pass through instead of condemning such evil and demeaning acts which are befalling our nation.

The Act prohibits worst form of child labor, which include all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery; the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances; the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties; and work that is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of the child.

Over one third of Kenyan children are involved in prostitution as young as 8-9 years old 1 out of ten sex workers 2006, UNICEF report. While prostitution is illegal.

Kenya as a nation we should be proud of the long journey we have come from as of now we’ve free education where our children can access it despite the social status. We cannot let this pass we need to speak out about child labor even in our own households where we tend to make children do some chores they are not entitled to.

We have to save our children from this despair unless we want them to languished and surfer under these excruciating conditions which, end up leaving them sickly, depressed and distressed, undermined and overworked, looked down upon and mistreated in different forms

Well it is not that we don’t know about it, we just tend to be ignorant of it letting our future generation disappear in thin air yet we can rectify this as early as now. We can start by reporting any circumstances of child labor and creating awareness even where people practice it unknowingly. we need to enlighten one another on this to ensure normal up bring to our children.

It is our obligation as a society to ensure that they get to go to school, protected, they can access facilities that will help shape their lives and they are taken care of accordingly.The Children Act defines child as any person below eighteen years of age. According to this Act, every child has a right to free basic education and it is the duty of the government and the parents to provide education to the child.

A person involved in worst form of child labor or who does not abide by the regulation related to the child’s employment is a liable to a fine up to 200,000 shillings or to imprisonment up to twelve months or to both.

The Kenyan government’s commitment to eliminating child labor is stated in various Government policy documents, international conventions protecting children, and the UN charter on the rights of children, to which Kenya is a signatory. Despite this, child labor continues to be prevalent.

Kenya has made great strides in combating poverty and promoting development but unfortunately it is still hurdle. Food insecurity, poverty and a lack of enforcement of child labor laws. In some parts of Northern Kenya are suffering from acute malnutrition and need a strong food security plan, 2017).Lack of food in these areas might lead to some families to force their children into labor to sustain their families.

The implication of child labor has led the child to look much older than their age, psychological disturbance, tiresomeness. We should work as a nation towards ensuring that children have education, guide and creating awareness, counselling, sustained campaign against it.

#INTERNATIONAL CHILD LABOR DAY,12/06/2018

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