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Combating increased exploitation of children during the COVID-19 pandemic

This Article is taken from ILO website

Key officials from the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection and the Ministry of Manpower, with support from civil society organizations, children forums and the ILO, have called for intensified efforts through strengthened collaboration and coordination to prevent and combat the increased exploitation of children for economic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one day webinar, “Stop the economic exploitation of children during the COVID-19 pandemic,” was held by the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection with support from the Ministry of Manpower, JARAK, a NGO network deals with child labour issue, children forum and the ILO, on 28 July in conjunction with the commemoration of the National Children’s Day. More than 300 participants nationwide participated in the webinar.

We need to develop early detection mechanism and to involve more stakeholders, including communities and families, in the fight against the exploitation of children.
Nahar, Deputy for Child Protection of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Children Protection

Nahar, Deputy for Child Protection of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Children Protection, highlighted the increased number of children becoming victims of exploitation, particularly during the pandemic. “We need to develop early detection mechanism and to involve more stakeholders, including communities and families, in the fight against the exploitation of children. I hope that this webinar can provide recommendations based on lessons learnt and experience sharing among different stakeholders,” he stated in his welcoming remarks.

Around 11 million Indonesian children are now vulnerable to be economically exploited as child labourers. They are also vulnerable to drop out from schools. The majority of child labourers are found in eastern part of Indonesia such as Sulawesi islands, Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

“We have developed a strategy to eliminate exploitation of children as Indonesia has committed to end modern slavery, trafficking and child labour by 2030. This is to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 8.7,” explained Valentina Gintings, Deputy Assistant to Child Protection from Violence and Exploitation of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection.

In addition to withdrawal of children from child labour, the Ministry of Manpower has also conducted skills training programme for former child labourers and entrepreneurship programmes for chid labourers’ families as part of the effort to cut the vicious cycle of poverty and child labour.
Tunjung Rijanto, Head of the Norms Control of Worst Forms of Child Labour Unit of the Ministry of Manpower

Tunjung Rijanto, Head of the Norms Control of Worst Forms of Child Labour Unit of the Ministry of Manpower, expressed the same, strong commitment to combat and eliminate child labour in the country. “In addition to withdrawal of children from child labour, the Ministry of Manpower has also conducted skills training programme for former child labourers and entrepreneurship programmes for chid labourers’ families as part of the effort to cut the vicious cycle of poverty and child labour,” he said.

Meanwhile Irham Saifuddin, ILO’s programme officer, presented the ILO’s series of monitors on COVID-19 and the world of work. The latest ILO monitor published in July reveal the loss of working hours that equal with 400 million full time jobs, worsened compared to the previous estimation.

In terms of child labour, the ILO latest data shows that there are around 152 million of child labour globally with the majority of them work in the agriculture sector. “This is in line with the condition of Indonesia which majority of our child labourers are found in agriculture and forestry sector,” he said.

Therefore we try to develop educative programmes for children so that they can play and learn and to support mobile teacher programme in order to maintain school activities. Children should not work, they should go to school.
Rizky Dwi Saputra, Head of Child Forum of Jokarto Village in East Java

He also reminded the participants about the urgency of this issue and the urgent needs to intensify the efforts. “In addition to increased exploitation of children, we face high youth unemployment that is even higher that the global rate, demographic bonus and the road map to eliminate child labour by 2022. Thus, we need to intensify our joint efforts.”

From the perspective of the children, Rizky Dwi Saputra, Head of Child Forum of Jokarto Village in East Java, emphasized the need of more educative and learning programmes for children. Learning from his own experience, he said that during the pandemic, more children preferred to work and help their families due to lack of technology, lack of teachers and ease the family’s economic burdens.

“Therefore we try to develop educative programmes for children so that they can play and learn and to support mobile teacher programme in order to maintain school activities. Children should not work, they should go to school,” he said.

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