|Indonesian children rough it out on streets|
Sunday 16 November 2003Dianthus Saputra Estey in Jakarta
The quality of life of Indonesian children according to various reports and statistics.
UNICEF and UNDP, for instance, state in their latest assessments that 40% of Indonesian children below the age of five are suffering from malnutrition and 60% of pregnant women and school age children are anaemic.
Not only are children denied their rights to a decent standard of living, clean water and adequate nutrition, but also end up working the streets and are therefore denied their right to education, said Mulyadi.
My parents died and left me with nothing.
My neighbour sold my parent's house and kicked me out into the street, said nine-year-old Angga as he rushed off to clean a train in the Kota station in Jakarta.
Cleaning trains at stations, selling newspapers and begging are some of the jobs these kids do to survive.
Child labour has long been a problem in Indonesia. Children can be found working in almost all sectors of industries, from the shipping industry to the production lines of dangerous chemical substances.
According to the latest data from the Directorate General for Manpower Supervision (DGMS), more than 500,000 children are working in the Indonesian formal sector.
Government contribution small
Many activists have slammed the government for not taking the matter seriously. How can the government close its eyes to this problem? We are talking about the future generation of our country, Mulyadi said.
President Megawati Sukarnoputri has conceded that the government's contribution is small. "We must admit that we have not given what is best for our children," she said during the commemoration of National Children' Day last July.
However, DGMS chief MSM Simanihuruk is quick to defend the accusation that the government is not doing anything about this growing problem. The government has taken steps towards banning certain jobs for children in order to protect them from health and moral hazard and to ensure their safety, he said.
|Left to fend for themselves|
Law No 13/2003 on labour prohibits the employment of children as slaves, in pornography, the drug trade and in chemically hazardous jobs.
Simanihuruk admits that the government can only enforce the ban in the formal sector. We cannot ban jobs that involve begging or singing on the streets, as that is out of our authority, he said.
Dissatisfied with the government' move, many NGOs and activists have tried to provide an option for a better future for these kids.
Tucked in the eastern part of the capital Jakarta, for the past year, a learning house has been set up to provide general education to children aged between 3 and 15 years.
The effort has met with resistance from both the targeted children and their parents." Many of the kids have lost interest in studying. The parents prefer having their kids working to help the family rather than spending time in classes," one of the founders of this "learning house", Yani Marwoto said.
|“We must admit that we have not given what is best for our children.”Megawati Sukarnoputri|
Marwoto and her colleagues were then forced to come up with a way to make the learning activities as attractive as possible. We are providing free health care and cheaper rice for the kids and their parents, Marwoto said.
There is ample evidence to show that the streets are an unsafe place for kids.
One day after cleaning the station, my friends and I decided to sleep on the park. A group of men attacked and raped us," said Selfi, a 12-year-old girl.
A report by the Jakarta office of the International Labour Organisation-International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC) said that a large number of children in the country were trapped in the worst forms of child labour: prostitution.
The report revealed thatthe number of child prostitutesis on the increase. In Viaduct Park, East Jakarta, for example, of 109 sex workers hawking the area, 90% were aged between 11 and 20.
An activist from the National Commission on Children' rights, Rachma Fitriani saidIndonesiawas facing the potential risk of a lost generation. "A loss of a generation due to poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, lack of attention and lack of love," she said.
"This situation has created a new generation growing up with hatred towards society. They grow up with a feeling of injustice, Mulyadi said. Is this the kind of future we want for our country?"
|Some organisations in the private sector provide free education|
Description of project, *Title: Born to work*
For the last three years I have been working on child labour in Bangladesh.
Child labour is forbidden in Bangladesh since 1992.
In December 2005 I visited a garment factory in Narayanganj, which is the center of the garment industry in Bangladesh.
I took a picture of the owner beating a 12-year-old boy because he had been too slow sewing t-shirts.
According to the UN Children’s Fund report, more than 6.3 million children under 14 are working in Bangladesh.
Many of them work under very bad conditions; some of them even risk their life.
Factory owners pay them about 400 to 700 taka (10 USD) a month while an adult worker earns up to 5,000 taka per month.
Everybody knows this, and for a long time nobody took care.
With my work I want to confront the people with the problem of child labour and motivate the people who begin to think about it in
Bangladesh where children are employed and in the rich countries of the Western world where products are sold that have been produced by children.
Some influential people in my country don’t want me to reinforce the bad image of Bangladesh.
But this is not my intention.
My intention is to start an improvement.
Showing the working conditions of the children doesn’t only mean to create shock-reactions it could be a beginning of a change in
thinking for parents who force their children to work for reasons of poverty as well as the factory owners and also the western consumers.
Once I took a picture of a seven-year-old boy working in a bulb factory.
His job was to check the bulbs by hanging them into an electric wire without any protection.
He had to do this very fast and any small mistake would have killed him.
I only took two pictures before the manager threw me out of the factory.
I didn’t even have the time to ask the boy’s name. Sometimes I just climb over the fence to get into a factory to take pictures; sometimes
like in this case I go there with a friend who pretends to want to talk to the boss while I run into the working place.
My intention is not only to show the children at work as victims of bad bosses exploiting them but I want to show the complexity of the situation:
The parents who send their little boy to work in a factory because they are poor.
The child that has to work to earn a living for the family.
The boss of the factory who is being pushed by big garment company to produce for less money.
And the Western consumers as clients who buy cheap clothes.
I think it is impossible to abolish child labour completely in Bangladesh in a very short time but I am sure it is possible to improve the working
conditions of the children and to bring more children from factory work into the schools.