The Problem of Child Work in Bandundu

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Following the World Day Against Child Labour, Deo, a Young Reporter from Bandundu, raises his voice against the economic exploitation of school-aged children in his hometown.

Today I am going to talk to you about the economic exploitation of children in the city of Bandundu. This violation of children’s rights is widespread, to the extent that it is readily accepted by the population of the city of Bandundu, when in reality it is something to be vigorously condemned.

The economic exploitation of children in Bandundu city may involve the parent, or any other person acting as a guardian of the child, forcing them to sell items, work in a field, break rocks or to carry out any other activity with the aim of making money. The parent claims to be incapable of taking adequate care of their children due to their precarious socioeconomic situation.

This practice harms the health and development of the child. It exposes them to various acts of violence which can have physical, as well as psychological and even social consequences, and which can also compromise their education. The child will sometimes even work during school hours! The fact that the child studies in the morning is used as a defense to hide behind so that they can engage in other responsibilities after lessons. But we all know that a child who works in the morning and then goes to lessons in the afternoon, or vice versa, is not going to achieve good grades.

It must also be considered that the majority of the victims of this practice are less than 14 years old, according to the MICS 2010 report on the Bandundu province. This contravenes article 32, paragraph 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which stipulates that:

States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

We, the Bandundu Young Reporters, have produced a programme on this theme. We concluded this programme by asking parents to take responsibility for their children; as article 18, paragraph 1 of the CRC recognises the responsibility of parents to put children’s rights into practice. But we can see that nothing is being done by parents to protect their children from this violation.

We want to reiterate this request to parents, and we ask the population of Bandundu to serve as a protecting force against this practice. This can be done by advising guilty parents and, if they encounter resistance, by denouncing anyone guilty of this practice, which is a violation of children’s rights, to the relevant authorities. Lastly, as is said in article 18, paragraph 2 of the CRC, we are asking the Congolese government to establish socio-economic programmes in order to help parents and compensate for the situation.

If all recommendations cited above were acted upon, there is reason to hope for a clear improvement in the sector of child protection, which can also affect several other sectors, such as child survival and development.


Article published on and written by Deo:

Déo is 16 years old and is a student at KIVUVU High School in Bandundu. He adores football and mathematics. In the future he would like to be a professor, lecturing in mathematics to students at university. For him, being a child reporter gives him an opportunity to advocate on the different problems of abuse that other children are subjected to.

Translated from French by Amber Sherman.

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