Topic: Children and women labour abuse: ways to prevent further escalation
The modern world today is proud to recognize the equality that has been acknowledged between age, gender, and race. Women are beginning to be treated as equals with men, in lifestyle, society, and economy. Today women are liberated from their traditional roles and are pursuing their hopes and dreams. However, this is not the case in many regions of the world. In the developing countries, thousands of females are dehumanized and made to suffer from the gravest violation and exploitation of their human rights. They often become victims of human trafficking which exploits them either for prostitution or forced labour.
Human trafficking also includes children who are vulnerable subjects of violence and exploitation. Unfortunately, with increase in incidence of child abuse, exploitation and violence, the well-being of millions of children around the world is questionable.
Women and children labour abuse has escalated throughout last century and has become an enormous concern which impedes a universal consensus on dealing with the problem.
Lebanon has joined and ratified International Labour Conventions related to the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including the ILO Convention in 2001, C136 Benzene Convention of 1971, relating to prevention of hazardous poisoning resulting from benzene in 1999 and C138 Convention of 1973 concerning minimum Age for Admission to Employment, ratified in 2003. Lebanon is thus committed to eliminating the exploitation of children trafficking and hazardous labour.
The Labour Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 (art. 4, 23, 24). Children between ages 14 and 18 may work if they receive a medical certification asserting their fitness to do the type of the job for which they have been recruited (art.10). The Labour Code provides basic protections to children, such as limiting the work day to maximum of 6 hours per day with 1 hour of rest after every 4 hours worked. In certain types of work deemed harmful or detrimental the law prohibits employing any child under the age of 16.
The Penal Code and Law 422 protect children from commercial sexual exploitation and prohibit financial gain from the prostitution of others, child pornography, involvement of a child in illegal activity, forced labour, and involuntary servitude (art. 6, 13, 28). Furthermore, anyone who entices children or other persons under the age of 20 into prostitution or immoral acts, or helps and facilitates the commission of such acts shall be punished by one month to one year imprisonment and a fine (art.523).
The phenomenon of children working as beggars in the streets is a serious problem and according to Law 422 endangers a child, therefore, in the Penal Code child begging is criminalized (art.16).
Lebanon has ratified many of the international conventions that are directly related to human rights. Article No 7 of the Lebanese Constitution guarantees the equality among the Lebanese, males and females, in all domains.
In 1996, Lebanon signed, with reservation, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Accordingly, Lebanon is committed to eliminate any discrimination between men and women in legislation and in practice.
The Lebanese government also encourages non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to submit a parallel report in conformity with the guidelines set by the CEDAW Committee. In this respect, the Lebanese NGO Forum, an umbrella organization of various NGOs distributed geographically throughout the Lebanese territory has set a permanent monitoring mechanism entitled Women?s Rights Monitor. As a result of the efforts exerted by the civil society, especially by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with human rights, some gender ?discriminatory Lebanese laws have been reformed.
Taking all these important issues into consideration, Lebanon strongly believes that all state members of the United Nations should deal with the problem of women/children labour abuse jointly and find ways to protect human rights effectively. Community development programmes must be expanded and standards and laws must be strengthened. Our focus should lie on the prevention of such phenomena by launching campaigns to raise international awareness to combat violence and exploitation against women and children.
Lebanon believes that there must be a general consensus that labour inspectors need to be more involved in action against all kinds of labour abuse and work exploitation. We urge the community members to target our awareness on the coordination of our efforts towards enforcement of women/child labour legislation and laws.
Last but not least, we should all understand that the key to ending labour exploitation is education. We should focus on the creation of educational systems that enhance quality and relevance and depend upon free access to all children.