Launched by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2002, the World Day Against Child Labour brings attention to a global issue that involves more than 120 million children between the ages of five and 14 around the world.
Despite being a vibrant economic zone, Asia Pacific is the region with the largest incidents of child labour, with a reported 18.8 percent of the 650 million working children around the world. Children around the region are found to be working in a broad range of economic sectors, from garment factories in Bangladesh to sugarcane plantations in Cambodia, and fishing boats in the Philippines. Other sectors include seafood processing, entertainment, mining, scavenging and domestic labour.
Many factors influence the prevalence of child labour, with poverty being the root cause of children having to work. Multiple humanitarian organisations identify education as the most important component in reducing the rampant incidents of child labour. Africa and Asia account for an estimated 90 percent of total child employment around the world.
January 16, 2013 – Chhoyk village, Srei Ambel district, Koh Kong (Cambodia). S. M. (15) sits on the truck ready to start another day of work in the sugar cane plantations. He dropped out of school when he was 8 years old. In rural areas of Cambodia, at least 75,000 hectares in economic land concessions have been granted for industrial sugarcane production in the past ten years, leading to the destruction of protected forests, the pollution of water sources, and the forced displacement and dispossession of hundreds of families. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
January 16, 2013 – Chhoyk village, Srei Ambel district, Koh Kong (Cambodia). N. T. at just 9 years old, helps his parents counting and making bunches with the sugar canes. He’s from Bang Village – about 2 hours drive away from the plantations, where he lives with his other 2 brothers. His family decided to start working on the plantations as they suffered a very strong drought and they are not able to cultivate their lands. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom
February 13, 2013 – Omlaing, Kampong Speu (Cambodia). Ranlyn works clearing land for her ‘adopted family’, she works for them in exchange for her father’s debt. O’bat Moun relocation village. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom
August 11, 2012 – Dhaka, Bangladesh. A boy shapes pieces of rubber using a hammer and chisel near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 working in Bangladesh. Since these children start working at such a young age, they are unable to complete any formal education, and therefore get trapped in a life of low-skilled labour from which most will never escape. The nature of their work is often dangerous, working in small factories or cottage industry shops with very little in the way of safety precautions. The pay for young children is usually less than 1 dollar a day, but this money is essential to the survival of their families; quitting is not an option. ©Luc Forsyth / Ruom
August 8, 2012 – Dhaka, Bangladesh. The grease covered hands of a boy working in an engine repair shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. ©Luc Forsyth / Ruom
August 8, 2012 – Dhaka, Bangladesh. A boy works a machine lathe in a small workshop along the Buriganga river. ©Luc Forsyth / Ruom
August 4, 2012 – Dhaka, Bangladesh. A sewing shop in Sadarghat. Bangladesh has an extensive textile industry and many children are employed to operate the machines. ©Luc Forsyth / Ruom
August 15, 2012 – Dhaka, Bangladesh. A boy takes a break from his job as a metal smelter in Dhaka’s Sadarghat district. ©Luc Forsyth / Ruom
December 12, 2014. Koh Kong, Cambodia. A young Kun Khmer boxer waits for his boxing match to begin. Child boxers in Cambodia fight to help support their families, and see boxing as a means out of poverty. Hannah Reyes/ Ruom
December 12, 2014. Koh Kong, Cambodia. A young Kun Khmer boxer is fanned with a towel in between rounds at a boxing match. Hannah Reyes/ Ruom
June 9, 2012 – Bicol, Philippines. A young boy is seen on a boat, working as a fisherman. Young Filipino boys who begin fishing from a young age aim to help alleviate their family’s poverty. The Philippines is comprised of more than 7,000 islands, and fishing plays a significant part in the economy. © Hannah Reyes / RUOM
June 10, 2012 – Bicol, Philippines. A young fisherman is seen on a boat headed out for the night’s catch. © Hannah Reyes / RUOM
June 10, 2012 – Bicol, Philippines. A young fisherman naps after a day of fishing, where the catch was not enough to compensate for the gas used to run the boat in the morning. © Hannah Reyes / RUOM