Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Zambian Child Labor protection
I was reading www.zambian-economist.blogspot.com and was on the post 'a positive step for our children'. I liked what cho had to say, and in addition would like to add a story.
When I was last home we had a million and one guests over at house and needed extra help because the maid was ill and couldn't help out. While I wasa looking for someone affordable, I was approached by a little girl.. probably 12 years old. She told me that her parents had died and she was living with her siblings the oldest who was 16 and they really had no money and no one to help them and she really wanted a job. So me not knowing the new rules in Zambia gladly hired her and took her home. My mum was 'like oh no! we're not allowed to hire children any more, she can not work here or we'll be arrested!' So I paid the little girl anyway for coming home with me...but i was sad to see her go. What choice did she have? how would she help the family get by with no money? Youu can say that she could have gone to an orphanage, but orphanages also have criteria and also sometimes separate families. Also who is out there to tell children like this what their options are?
I would say the policy makers really need to scruitinize what they are doing. Traditionally I guess you can say all young girls in Zambia are abused then because by our pre-teen years we're expected to know how to cook, clean and take care of kids! So if you can already do that, why can't someone hire you to do those jobs within reason?
The people that ruin it for others are those that enslave these children and don't pay them what they are owed and make them do work beyond their abilities. I personally don't see anything wrong with hiring those kids to do little jobs around the place...i.e wash a few dishes, play with a little child, sweep the veranda...etc
This will atleast give them alternatives to starving or child prostituition.
I think it's right that they are making rules, but they need to Zambianize those rules and not westernize the rules. Maybe if they had a department that children reported to in each district if they wanted to work, and the department would be responsible to make sure the children report abuses back to them or something like that. The social system in zed is already taxed to the max with the high poverty rate and I'm sure a lot of children living with relatives are also getting abused and don't have too many safe guards in place to protect them.
You can say the kids need to be in school, but the basic schools are nothing but basic information which wont necessarily take you too far. The free schools in the shanty compounds only teach kids basic english and math...nothing that you can take to college and college aint free!
Putting the street kids and double orphans or the likes in orphanages also doesn't always work as we saw with the street kids that ran away from one drop off center stating "takwali life!" Give them real choices or make free skills centers or schools so they can have something to fall back on. If people can afford $200 000 houses in Zambia...then there is money to help formulate something for these children!
Besides...exactly how will the government impose such rules and monitor them? They just can't go around putting words on paper to please the western world. They have got to make plans suitable for the Zambian culture. Where will the million children employed in agriculture go when they are banned from working?
In the words of Oliver Mtukudzi 'wake up, open your eyes'