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Gov’t urged to implement policies that protect children

Author: Emmanuel J Akile | Published: Thursday, June 13, 2019

A child carries his younger sister on his back. Both children are living on the street in Aweil, South Sudan | Credit | UNICEF

A specialist is urging the government to implement policies that protect children in South Sudan.

In Juba, Wau and other urban centers – it has been observed that some parents force their children to do labor on daily basis.

These include carrying of heavy loads, washing clothes, crushing rocks, and peddling food and non-food items.

June 12 marks the World Day Against Child Labor.

It was launched by the United Nations in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labor and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.

According to a research conducted by the international labor organization, more than 45 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 are involved in child labor in South Sudan.

They are mostly engaged in agricultural activities and cattle herding, among others. Betty Adong is a child protection case supervisor at the World Vision in South Sudan.

She says children should not be allowed to work in sectors that deter their mental and physical growth.

Some children in Wau state, who are involved in labor shared their stories with Eye Radio.

They say they undergo hard labor on daily basis to help their families and pay their school fees.

“I do this job because if i don’t i will not have shoes or buy exercise books, school bag or even  pay school fees. If I don’t work and instead steal I will be called a thief, that’s why I decided to work.”

Another said that his parents are unable to provide for hi s basic needs forcing him to work.

“I sell water, if I want or ask my parents for something, they don’t give me. My parents are not helping me. An exercise book cost 120 SSP, they only pay my school fees, but if I ask for anything they refuse.”

“I’m working in a shop, because my situation is worsening. I’m doing this because I want to continue going to school to pay my school fees. I’m staying with my mom, my father died, and no one is helping me, but I want to leave this work and focus on my studies because education is more important than what I’m doing now.”

In response, the minister of gender, child and social welfare in Wau state has urged parents not to allow their children embark on labor.

Christina Gabriel Ali says it is against the children’s rights.

“Why do you allow your child to do hard labor, to sell water and carry heavy items, we need to implement the laws from our households, we should not allow our children involved in hard labor. The child’s right is to go to school, eat well and be protected.”

She emphasized on the importance of taking children to school in order to benefit in the future.

“If we want to help our children, we should encourage them to go to school, so that we can benefit from them in future. Your child can be a doctor or engineer in future, and the money that you want, they will bring that.

The World Day Against Child Labor 2019 is being observed under the theme: “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams.”

Yet today, 152 million children are still in child labor. Although child labor occurs in almost every sector, seven out of every ten is in agriculture.

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