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12.06.2007

Ukrainian children’s work in the fields destroys their future

   

At least one child dies and 15 are injured during agricultural work in Ukraine each year. These figures were given by experts on World Day against Child Labour, observed annually on 12 June.

At present children’s rights activists in Ukrainian are concentrating on fighting the worst forms of child labour, mainly in agriculture where they say the largest numbers of children work.

Specialists estimate that more than 40% of these children work in dangerous conditions. One fifth are engaged in hard physical labour from an early age. Many such children are often ill, and they quite often lose limbs working in the fields.

However the director of the International Programme to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in Ukraine Tetyana Minenko says that there are even more repercussions in the future.

“Children who work in agriculture are most passive and have no life skills and plans. This is an absolutely disastrous situation for long-term prospects.”

Due to work in the fields, some working children constantly miss school.

Experts differentiate between usual helping parents out and exploitation. It is the latter which impedes studies, involves coercion and damages children’s health and psychological state.

It is seen as a result of the difficult situation in the countryside where the level of wages is lowest. According to experts, child labour have always been a part of the upbringing process in rural families, however it has now turned into a means of survival.

Despite the alarm bells from specialists, the State Committee of Statistics last carried out a study into this phenomenon seven years ago. They then found that almost 150 thousand Ukrainian children work in agriculture.

It is not known how the situation has changed since then. It is likely only that some of the fruit and vegetables which Ukrainian city residents eat each day have been grown by children.

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