In 2017, Georgia meets the World Day Against Child Labour still facing acute problems. National legislation still fails to fully ensure protection of children from hazardous forms of work and labour exploitation, while the executive authorities are not able to protect children from a threat of illegal labour migration and trafficking within the frames of existing legislation.
As it was revealed by the National Child Labour Survey in 2016, 24 000 children are engaged in labour activities throughout the county and 64 % among them are carrying out hazardous labour activities. 4700 children are in contact with hazardous equipment and tools.
According to the report of the public defender, only in 2016, 1165 children have abandoned schools due to the engagement in child labour. The picture gets even worse if we recollect that the survey didn’t cover the children living and working on the streets, whose majority are the victims of labour exploitation.
Begging in the streets, selling small items by children living and working on the streets as well as some income earning economic activities, diverting children from age appropriate and relevant opportunities, is not considered as child labour in Georgia. Also, we don’t have precise data on labour activities of children with disabilities that significantly violate their right on education and development.
The situation is alarming in Guria and Adjara regions. Within the framework of the survey carried out by the NGOs in 2015, 223 teenagers from the 17 – 22 years age group were interviewed on the topic of illegal labour migration to Turkey. 99 % of them were engaged in illegal labour migration during the juvenile period. Children cross the border to work in tea and citrus plantations at the age of 15-17, although only a small percentage of them gets engaged in this activity from the age 12.
They have no parental consent or cross the border without an accompanying parent. During the period of work, contracts have been signed with only two of them. Five respondents confessed that sexual violence was carried out against them during the labour migration. Such practice is still widely spread in Guria and Adjara regions, but the State structures systematically neglect these facts. No effective reaction is made by any of the services in response to the dissemination of survey data.
Widespread child labour that deprives children of their childhood and negatively affects their potential and dignity, is the result of shortages in child protection, education and welfare system.
The Georgian Coalition for Children and Youth calls on:
- the Ministry of Education and Science, to enhance prevention and registering of education abandonment due to child labour;
- the Ministry of Internal affairs and all other responsible bodies to effectively respond to cases of child labour exploitation, toughen the measures for elimination of illegal labour migration and child trafficking;
- The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Welfare to ensure protection of children from extreme and hazardous forms of work, carry out monitoring of child labour and protection against violence.
The Coalition considers it important for the Parliament of Georgia to carry out the analysis of national legislation in the nearest future and harmonize it in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the conventions of International Labour Organization.
The statement is signed by following organizations:
- Children of Georgia
- Georgian Association of Social Workers
- SOS Children’s Village of Georgia
- Save the Children office in Georgia
- Partnership for Human Rights
- World Vision Georgia
- Partnership for Children
- First Step Georgia
- Georgian Public Health Fund
- Global Initiative in Psychiatry
- International Association “Cavitas Georgica”
- International Association for Assistance of Children with Leukemia
- McLain Association f or Children
- Caritas Georgia
- “Studio ADC“
- Association “Right to Health”
- Women’s Informational Center
- National Network for Protection Against Violence
- Association of Small Family-Type Home Service Provider Organizations
- Association “Our House Georgia”
- Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation Center of Torture Victims
- Initiative for Rehabilitation of Vulnerable Groups
- Association “Biliki”
- Institute of Nonviolent Communication
- Union “Imedi Plus”
- Association Child and Family
- Association for Assistance of Children with Hearing and Speech Impairment (Parent’s Union)
- Welfare and Development Center
- Union “Orioni”
- Initiative for Social Changes
- Rustavi International Scout Center
- Young Teachers Union
- Divine Child Foundation of Georgia
- Partnership for Social Welfare
- “Child Welfare League”
- Child, Family, Society
- International Charity Fund for Assistance of Children With Leukemia
- Mtskheta-Mtianeti Committee of the National Network for Protection Against Violence
- Equal Opportunity Policy and Advocacy Institute.