Pandemic could lead to increase in child labor, minister warns

Pandemic could lead to increase in child labor, minister warns

Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati (June 23, 2021). (ANTARA/Prisca Triferna)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has increased the risk of more children being pushed into child labor.

"The issue of child labor is a serious issue that threatens the fulfillment of children's rights. Child workers are at risk of dropping out of school, being neglected, and entering situations that endanger themselves," the minister said during an online discussion on ‘The Role of Pentahelix in Overcoming Child Labor’, originating from here on Wednesday.

Child labor threatens the growth and development of a child, she pointed out adding, the majority of child workers aged 15-17 are no longer in school.

Child laborers are different from working children, Darmawati said. The second category of children carry out work over a short period of time outside of school time and without any element of exploitation, she explained.

Meanwhile, child laborers do more vigorous work, hence their health, safety, and development are disturbed and endangered, she added.

The government has made several efforts to eliminate child labor, the minister said. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of child labor, she added.

Data from the National Labor Force Survey (SAKERNAS) shows that about 9.34 percent or around 3.36 million children aged 10-17 years were forced to work as of August, 2020. They included about 1.17 million child workers.

The SAKERNAS data also indicated an increase in the number of child laborers in the country over the last two years.

Darmawati highlighted that there is potential for an increase in child labor in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

She reminded that all parties must prepare for the worst possible scenario because the pandemic is not over yet.

“The economic crisis, the decline in adult workers in certain sectors due to high mortality rates, and social inequality in access to information technology for distance learning can increase the risk of the emergence of many new child workers in the midst of a pandemic," she cautioned. (INE)

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