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    U.S. allows child labor by law but chastises other nations for human rights abuses

    U.S. allows child labor by law but chastises other nations for human rights abuses
    Daya Gamage
    Thu, 2010-07-08

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.

    These sentiments were expressed by Florida’s St. Petersburg Times after an investigative report released early this month by Human Rights Watch about the existence of child labor in agricultural lands in the United States was revealed.

    In fact the US has failed to meet its obligations to implement International Labor Organization Convention (ILO) 182 related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor according to a new report released June 1 by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF). The new report, "A Matter of Urgency: US Compliance with ILO Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor," explains how the US does not comply with the international convention and recommends steps for protecting child laborers in the US.

    The United States spent over $26 million in 2009 to eliminate child labor around the world—

    more than all other countries combined—yet the country’s law and practice concerning child farm workers are in violation of or are inconsistent with international conventions on the rights of children. International Labor Organization Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child labor, ratified by the United States in 1999, prohibits children from engaging in dangerous or harmful work.

    The Convention on the rights of the Child, to which the United States is a signatory but not a party, seeks to protect children from economic exploitation, and also from work that is hazardous or otherwise harmful. Additionally, because farm worker children are overwhelmingly ethnically Hispanic, the disparity in legal protections provided to agricultural workers compared to other workers in the United States has a disparate impact that is discriminatory under international law. The failure of the United States to enforce existing laws and regulations that purport to protect children working in agriculture further violate the United States’ international legal obligations.

    The Human Rights Watch report called Fields of Peril: Child Labor in US Agriculture, a 99-page report that details the risks the child farm workers face concerning their safety, health, and education on commercial farms across the United States.

    "Fields of Peril" found that children as young as 12 regularly toil for 10 or more hours a day, five to seven days a week. Many children start working part time at age 6 or 7. Like many adult farm workers, kids typically earn well below minimum wage, and their pay is often further slashed because their bosses underreport hours and require them to buy drinking water their employers should provide by law.

    Human Rights Watch called on U.S. Congress to amend a federal law that permits children under age 18 to work for hire in agriculture at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and in far more hazardous conditions than in any other industry.

    But because of what the human rights organizations call “a double standard in U.S. federal law,” children who would be banned from employment in other industries can legally be employed on farms to do backbreaking and even dangerous work.

    As the Human Rights Watch investigative report "Fields of Peril," puts it:

    "Agriculture is the most dangerous industry for young workers … Working with sharp tools and heavy machinery, exposed to chemicals, climbing up tall ladders, lugging heavy buckets and sacks, children get hurt and sometimes they die.

    "From 2005 to 2008, at least 43 children under age 18 died from work-related injuries in crop production – 27 percent of all children who were fatally injured at work. The risk of fatal injuries for agricultural workers ages 15 to 17 is more than 4 times that of other young workers."

    Human Rights Watch wants Congress to force agriculture to follow the same child labor laws that apply to other employers. The organization is also urging states to set a minimum age of 14 for farm work of any kind. It’s the second time the organization has raised the issue: A similar report, written a decade ago, led to no improvements, Human Rights Watch says.

    As the report details, agriculture is a tricky industry when it comes to child labor. The rules and regulations are different than almost any other industry allowing children as young as 12 years of age to work legally in what are often times very hazardous conditions. In fact, the report cites that from 2005-2008, there were 43 minors who died from work related injuries in crop production. "The risk of fatal injury for agricultural workers ages 15 to 17 is more than 4 times that of other young workers."

    In addition to these risks, the report exposes readers to the long-term health consequences often suffered by children working in agriculture who are often exposed to pesticides; suffer from injuries from repetitive motions, work despite injuries, and work despite extreme cold or heat. Crop workers on U.S. farms suffer from heat fatalities at a rate of 20 times higher than any other U.S. civilian workers.

    The abuses they suffer do not end there: many must work long hours furthering their health and safety risks and affecting their school performance (if they are able to go to school at all); many children stated their employers do not provide sanitation facilities and drinking water on-site (despite the fact US federal laws requires these be provided to farms with more than 10 workers); girls also experience significant sexual harassment and violence.

    All of these risks create a precarious situation for any minor working in the agricultural industry. It is no coincidence that abuse, fatalities and injuries occur at such a high rate and that even the weak laws that do protect the workers are poorly enforced. Unaccompanied migrant children, in particular, represent a significant risk group for trafficking because the ability to coerce and force these young people is stronger due to a broader set of vulnerabilities. Not to mention the risk of girls being exposed to sexual exploitation. It is interesting that it is still required to show force, fraud and coercion to prove a case of child trafficking for labor as this is not a requirement for cases involving trafficking for sexual exploitation.

    The Human Rights Watch report further states:

    “Hundreds of thousands of children under age 18 are working in agriculture in the United States. But under a double standard in US federal law, children can toil in the fields at far younger ages, for far longer hours, and under far more hazardous conditions than all other working children. For too many of these children, farm work means an early end to childhood, long hours at exploitative wages, and risk to their health and sometimes their lives.

    Although their families’ financial need helps push children into the fields—poverty among farm workers is more than double that of all wage and salary employees—the long hours and demands of farm work result in high drop-out rates from school. Without a diploma, child workers are left with few options besides a lifetime of farm work and the poverty that accompanies it.

    “In 2000, Human Rights Watch published the report “Fingers to the bone: United States Failure to Protect Child Farm workers.” This study documented the exploitative, dangerous conditions under which children worked in agriculture and the damage inflicted upon their health and education.

    Highlighting weak protections in US law, it found that even these provisions were rarely enforced. Nearly 10 years later, human rights Watch returned to the fields to assess conditions for working children. We conducted research in the states of Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas, interviewing dozens of child farm workers who had altogether worked in 14 states across the country. Shockingly, we found that conditions for child farm workers in the United states remain virtually as they were a decade ago.

    Tthis report details those conditions and the failure of the US government to take effective steps needed to remedy them. Most notably, the government has failed to address the unequal treatment of working children in the Fair Labor Standards Act, which provides fewer protections to children working in agriculture compared with all other working children.

    “Children often work performing the same motions—kneeling, stooping, or raising their arms for hours a day. Youth described pain in their backs, knees, hands, and feet, even at very young ages. Children whose bodies are still developing are especially vulnerable to repetitive-motion injury. Children work in extreme temperatures, heat and cold, from over 110 degrees in the Texas summer to snow in Michigan. In some climates the day starts cold and wet, and then turns unbearably hot.”

    Let’s repeat what Florida’s St. Petersburg Times writer said:

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”.

    - Asian Tribune -

    asiantribune.com


    "A Matter of Urgency: US Compliance with ILO Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor,"

    Attached FilesThis report evaluates US compliance with International Labor Organization Convention 182 which focuses on eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The report demonstrates that the US is not meeting its obligations under the Convention and that urgent action is need to protect child laborers in the US and bring the US into compliance with the Convention.

    A Matter of Urgency: US Compliance with ILO Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor | International Labor Rights Forum

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.
    Ah, they mean illegal immigrant children. Great. Round up all the IIs and ship them home. Youth unemployment is about 20%, with about 40% for black youth in the US. Let them go to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.
    Ah, they mean illegal immigrant children. Great. Round up all the IIs and ship them home. Youth unemployment is about 20%, with about 40% for black youth in the US. Let them go to work.
    No, they mean CHILDREN. What do you want to do - send them up the chimneys you raddled old [at][at][at][at]?

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    Bloody disgraceful.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.
    Ah, they mean illegal immigrant children. Great. Round up all the IIs and ship them home. Youth unemployment is about 20%, with about 40% for black youth in the US. Let them go to work.
    Can you picture homies working in the fields? I can't.

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    Child labor in the farming industry is allowed because of the family farms. Can you imagine making it a law that a child under 14 is not allowed to work on the family farm?
    TH

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    actions speak louder than -----.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dug View Post
    Bloody disgraceful.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.
    Ah, they mean illegal immigrant children. Great. Round up all the IIs and ship them home. Youth unemployment is about 20%, with about 40% for black youth in the US. Let them go to work.
    Can you picture homies working in the fields? I can't.

    or anything else that resembles work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dug
    Can you picture homies working in the fields? I can't.
    Cotton fields maybe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thaihome View Post
    Child labor in the farming industry is allowed because of the family farms. Can you imagine making it a law that a child under 14 is not allowed to work on the family farm?
    TH
    Family farms are a small percentage and they are exempt, as they are not considered employees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Mid View Post

    “We Americans proudly spend a lot of time chastising other parts of the world for what we see as human rights abuses and crimes. But given our abuse of farm worker children, especially migrant children, we are hypocrites when we chastise others”, was what one American national newspaper wrote recently.
    Ah, they mean illegal immigrant children. Great. Round up all the IIs and ship them home. Youth unemployment is about 20%, with about 40% for black youth in the US. Let them go to work.
    There is a campaign by the united farm workers saying come take our jobs. They are offering jobs to any american.

    Edit: Your 40% black youths are mostly in the city...... not in rural Cali or Florida

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    Quote Originally Posted by sccrhound View Post

    Edit: Your 40% black youths are mostly in the city...... not in rural Cali or Florida
    So what, people relocate for jobs all the time.
    If you can't get work where you are, go to where the jobs are, or would that be demeaning or too hard?

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    What a convenient article: Point the finger at the USA and then use the trumped up allegations as a means to avoid actual child labour issues. What the article conveniently neglects to mention is that the main suppliers and exploiters of children in the US labour market are ethnic communities. The sweat shops in New York employ illegal asian workers brought in by asian gangs that then force the workers to pay off their debts by working. Bust an Indian piece contractor and chances are that there will be illegal Indians working on the floor. Walk into a shish taouk restaurant in Dearborn, Michigan, and it's likely Uncle Abdul will have employed some family members from Lebanon or Algeria at crappy wages.
    The penalties for using illegal immigrant labour are significant. There are sweeps and swoops and employers get charged. The farms of California and Florida that rely on Latin American workers contract out the harvest work to agencies that are responsible for securing the labour and doing the 100 kilos of paper required for the employment of migrant labour. These agencies are usually owned by Latin Americans. The agencies are needed because they speak the language of the workers and understand the social norms and customs. Farm labour works by weight of harvest or by boxes of harvest. Child labour is inefficient. If a parent brings his or her child to the field to help there isn't much one can do. The parents say they need to watch their kids. There are plenty of social service groups and government agencies that go out into the fields to check. The issue of child labour isn't about farm workers, it's about the kids in Thailand chained to tables in stinky dark buildings where they shell and devein shrimp. It's about Indian and Pakistani kids as young as 5 forced to weave rugs. It's about little Afghani boys forced into lives of dancing and being sodomized by the Taliban. Is it any wonder these people grow up angry. It's about kids in Africa being sold into slavery to harvest cocoa beans so that people around the world can eat their chocolate. Whatever faults the US has with labour code violations, it at least tries to stop it. That is something countries in SE Asia refuse to do.
    Kindness is spaying and neutering one's companion animals.

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    US double standards once again. If you are going to take the high moral ground then better clean up your own back yard first.

    USA is one big sweatshop for the poor with minimum wages far below other developed countries. But they all wave the flag and proclaim how lucky they are to live in the land of freedom so I guess they deserve what they get. Not that they have any clue what the rest of the developed world is doing.

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    ^Yes, it's hell here, please don't come here. Ever.

    Really, stay away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panda View Post
    US double standards once again. If you are going to take the high moral ground then better clean up your own back yard first.

    USA is one big sweatshop for the poor with minimum wages far below other developed countries. But they all wave the flag and proclaim how lucky they are to live in the land of freedom so I guess they deserve what they get. Not that they have any clue what the rest of the developed world is doing.
    What needs to be done, and I don't know the numbers, is to find the average and mean wage. The minimum wage in the US is 7.25. The minimum in the UK, in USD, is 8.93. Hardly far below.

    You also have to figure in taxes, but it is too late for me to do that now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent_Smith View Post
    ^Yes, it's hell here, please don't come here. Ever.

    Really, stay away.
    Dont worry. Been there, seen it and wont be back. I did like the Grand Canyon and Bourbon Street though.

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    "USA is one big sweatshop for the poor with minimum wages far below other developed countries".

    Really Panda ? You have lived and worked here how long ? Me, I have been here my whole life. Thing is, when they do these "checks" they don't bother actually bother doing anything about it to remedy the situation other than writing an article. LAME!! Wait, look...there are a bunch of illegals working here, maybe I should write a story on it and not report it to the authorities...Yeah thats what I will do...If people here actually did something other than bitch about things, this country would be cleaned up. We, the sheeple, for which we hide, one nation , invisible, for liberty and justice for none. Get off your fat lazy ass and do something for a change.

    I worked for 10 years on my parents farm, I also worked in the fields with other kids from the area. Yeah, we were paid garbage for wages, but I learned alot working those fields. I was a kid, I grew up doing hard work, taught me the value of doing good work. None were illegal. So yeah...these "farms" need some way to keep competitive. So getting kids from whoever is in the area is not uncommon.

    Child labor laws ? Really ? pffft...scrap'em, redo'em, and let the kids say, yes I want to operate a hay baler that will shred me to pieces if I am not careful.

    At age 8 I was driving this...



    now how cool was I back then ? VERY F'ING COOL!

    Sure, I broke my leg, had some cuts and bruises, but its part of growing up.

    I am a static whore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panda
    Dont worry. Been there, seen it and wont be back. I did like the Grand Canyon and Bourbon Street though.
    Glad you enjoyed some of our non-child labor attractions.

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    Yea, USA terrible . At 8 picking up " unwanted bottles in order to see the Saturday matinee. Later cutting grass or shoveling snow. Then getting a job at MC Donalds. Later part Time in a Wharehouse. Absolutely Terrible experience. But if it wasnt to have been so, I wouldnt probably have shit.

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    I have no desire to set a foot in the USA, it spouts off how good it is and yet there are some places that are so backward and lost to society they make Thailand really number 1.
    Last edited by nevets; 11-07-2010 at 07:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mellow View Post
    Yea, USA terrible . At 8 picking up " unwanted bottles in order to see the Saturday matinee. Later cutting grass or shoveling snow. Then getting a job at MC Donalds. Later part Time in a Wharehouse. Absolutely Terrible experience. But if it wasnt to have been so, I wouldnt probably have shit.
    It was the same in England in the 60s small after school jobs and later at 15 starting my Electrical Engineering Apprenticeship for 5 years , but i think the OP was referring to adult jobs which would be taken not by children , but they do exploit them and use the children because the family's let them be exploited instead of in school learning to be an adult and a good job if possible later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevets View Post
    I have no desire to set a foot in the USA, it spouts off how good it is and yet there are some places that are so backward and lost to society they make Thailand really number 1.
    Please don't come back, we really don't want you here either...kthnxbai !

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    I did lots of different jobs from the age of 8 or 9 years until i finished school .
    So long as it's no more than 4 or 5 hrs. a day then it's fine .
    Don't see many kids today with sweat on their face,
    except after a game .
    actually believe it's good for you and your body .

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    Hypocrisy through and through.

    Not only on child labor laws, but in so many other areas as well.

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    More "Merka-Bashing". Why not find a worthy target such as ANY Islamo-fascist dictatorship or maybe Cuba or the uber-evil China or Myanmar. Plenty of reasons to throw stones at these losers before turning to the rather weak transgressions of the USA. Merka's critics reveal the most embarrassing kind of jealousy.
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