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ILO calls for strengthening of legal and policy interventions to curb child labor and trafficking

ILO calls for strengthening of legal and policy interventions to curb child labor and trafficking


Friday, April 18, 2024

KNA by Erastus Gichohi

The International Labour Organization [ILO] has called on national and county governments to scale up and strengthen legal and policy interventions to reverse and curb increase in cases of child labour and trafficking in the country.

ILO noted that even though the country has enacted laws that prohibit child labour and human trafficking, the country continues to record these cases that have mostly affected urban areas, major highways, coastal and border counties.

According to ILO Programme Manager Grace Banya, the governments should deploy swift policy interventions to address gaps that continued to be exploited by perpetrators of human trafficking and enforce laws that would lead reduction of these cases of child labor and exploitation.

Banya said ILO has been involved in capacity building and sensitization exercises targeting border counties of Bungoma, Kajiado, Kwale as well as Nairobi due to their high case load which she noted has been attributed to increased poverty levels and retrogressive cultural practices.

Speaking in Naivasha during a stakeholder’s exercise, Banya said Kajiado has high prevalence cases of children dropping out of school to undertake livestock herding, cases of child marriages, teenage pregnancies and domestic child labor.

On the other hand, Bungoma County has recorded increased cases of children who have been trafficked from Uganda and neighbouring countries for commercial sex exploitation and domestic work while Nairobi has recorded more cases of trafficked street kids while more cases of sex tourism have been reported in coastal counties.

Banya regretted that since Covid 19 pandemic, thousands of children were yet to resume their studies and have been involved in child labour to support their families due to increased poverty levels and harsh economic shocks across the country.

Banya said ILO continues to train and equip various government agencies including the police, judicial officers, prosecutors, labour and employment officers to ensure the perpetrators of child labour and trafficking face the full force of the law.

The officer added that ILO continues to work with local NGOs involved in rescue missions of trafficked children to ensure they got social counseling as well being supported to resume their studies and chart a better future.

She regretted that children involved in the labour force continued to be exploited and abused with most of them doing work with little or no pay as they were unable to negotiate their employment contract terms.

However, Banya said the country has made great strides and progress in addressing these glaring concerns with a section of counties moving to enact laws that prohibits and restrict child labour and trafficking within their borders.

She noted that Mombasa County has already formulated a child protection policy which once enforced, would rein in on perpetrators of child trafficking menace, eradicate the vice and create a safe haven for children.

Banya called on relevant government agencies to ensure provision of education for all children and accelerate social protections programmes to help the vulnerable families in order to arrest child labour which has been attributed to increased poverty levels.

Mikindani MCA in Mombasa County Jacktone Madiaro said the child protection policy under the County Assembly would ensure the county eradicate various forms of child labour and offer a lifeline for school going children.

Madiaro said Mombasa has recorded increased number of street children involved in hawking, child sexual exploitation and children working in mines with drug menace making the situation worse.

According to Kajiado Children Officer Cosmas Karera, the county has recorded more cases of children involved in sand harvesting, cattle herding, child marriages as well as Female Genital Mutilation [FGM] which has seen school dropout cases rise.

Karera noted that Kajiado County is already formulating a child protection policy that would see strict enforcement, sensitize communities on child labor and ensure perpetrators of the vice face justice.

The Head of Prevention at Awareness Against Human Trafficking Miriam Mang’oka said that more cases have been recorded of trafficked children destined for the Gulf states and South Asia countries for labour and sex exploitation.

Ms Mang’oka said urban areas and border counties were the most affected with perpetrators reverting to use of social media to lure and recruit victims adding that over 40 million cases of child labour and trafficking were reported globally last year.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics [KNBS], 8.5 percent of children or 1.3 million are engaged in child labor with Arid and Semi-Arid areas being the most affected.

According to the already enacted National Child Act, every child shall be protected from all forms of economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral social development.

Courtesy; KNA

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