'Selling Children': Stories from the 160 Million Child Labourers

Still from
Selling Children
Laoise Murray
June 4, 2024

Imagine your young daughter has been missing for over a year. Finally, you find she has been working as a domestic slave in a house in Delhi for a family that paid just 38 USD to have her. A buffalo is twenty times more expensive.

This is the situation that millions of children in India and around the world are subjected to on a daily basis. It is the worst kind of child labour, that subjects children to physical and mental harms, and takes them away from their homes, education, and their potential to make a better life for themselves.

It is just one of the many stories that filmmaker Pankaj Johar found when producing Selling Children, The Why’s Film of the Month of June. He witnesses many young girls from poor villages being liberated from prostitution, forced marriages and domestic work in faraway Indian cities. Young boys too are filmed as they are freed from a life of physical labour in run-down factories far from public view. 

The girl rescued from childhood slavery in Delhi has anger in her eyes as she is interviewed. She says she pleaded with her cruel employers, “Sister, I am also human.”

Still from Selling Children

UN World Day Against Child Labour

Wednesday, the 12th of June 2024, is UN World Day Against Child Labour, a reminder of our commitment to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and end all forms of child labour by 2025 under the Sustainable Development Goals. This goal means ensuring that every child has the chance to develop physically and mentally to their full potential. 

Yet in 2020, the ILO estimated that 63 million girls and 97 million boys around the world were engaged in the kind of work that “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” 

Most of these children under the age of 17 work in agriculture, but many work in industry, services and domestic work too.

While some positive trends for child labour have emerged in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean over the past decade, the situation for children in Sub-Saharan Africa is worsening. Extensive drought or other extreme weather caused by climate change has pushed families to the brink, enlisting their children to work instead of sending them to school.

Worst forms of child labour

Some work is so hazardous to the health or morals of children that it must be completely outlawed for children under the age of 18-years-old. For example, forcing children into slavery, prostitution or illicit activities is considered to be the worst kind of child labour.

ILO Covention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention was adopted in 1999 and has been universally ratified by all 187 countries party to the ILO. 

As of 2024, 25 years have passed since this convention was adopted. 

Kailash Satyarthi, the founder of Global March - Against Child Labour and the Save Childhood Movementi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. His heroic efforts to end child labour are highlighted in the documentary Selling Children

He contemplates the complex causes and consequences of the system of child labour noting there is a “chicken and egg” relationship between poverty, child labour and illiteracy. Poverty is the underlying cause of much child labour exploitation, and this in turn creates a barrier to education.

Still from Selling Children

Saving children

Education is central to ensuring that children prosper and to break the cycle of poverty and child labour. It is a fundamental human right; going to school means that children are not spending their time working, and it also provides the skills and opportunities to be lifted out of poverty and into more productive and meaningful work. 

But as lawyer Colin Gonsalves explains in Selling Children, we “need to control it at every level”, from providing social protection for poor and vulnerable families to bringing traffickers to justice through the legal system.

To find out more, watch Selling Children on our YouTube channel by clicking here.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing
Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

More news

More news