Child marriage is child labour

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2017 National Delegate Conference
23 February 2017

Conference notes that in September 2016 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the Alliance 8.7, an initiative which will bring together all interested parties to join forces in achieving UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development target 8.7, aiming at a world without forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour.

Conference welcomes the initiative, which it is anticipated will also address other sustainable development goals, including gender equality.

However, Conference is concerned to note that while child labour is included in the target, the ILO does not include forced marriage within its definition of child labour. Conference believes that urgent action is needed to address the issue of child marriage as a form of child labour, a crisis documented in the AIDS Free World report, Child Marriage is Child Labour.

New data from Save the Children reveals an alarming crisis in Afghanistan, as 3,000 Afghans are repatriated daily from Pakistan, following a tightening in regulations by Pakistani authorities. More than 70 percent of returnee parents and community leaders, who took part in a survey compiled by the aid organisation, said early marriage and child labour were major risks faced by repatriated children currently not in school.

With lack of documentation, money and access identified as major barriers for schoolchildren, parents who are facing poverty often feel the only stable choice they can make is to arrange a marriage for their daughter, or enter them into the workforce early.

These girls will join the estimated 15 million girls who, over the next year, will be forced into “marriages.” Instead of receiving an education alongside their peers, child “wives,” are forced to work long hours cooking and cleaning. They work night shifts caring for babies and younger children. Under the control of older “husbands” they are physically and psychologically abused and raped repeatedly. They work in conditions that threaten their lives and their health, suffer human rights and labour violations on a daily basis, and many die as a result.

If these activities were performed in a third-party household, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) would count them as work, and they would be included in child labour statistics, and in international action to end child labour. But because the children are married – albeit illegally – the ILO regards their workplace as their valid household and excludes them.

Conference believes that “child “marriage” is not merely a harmful traditional practice: it is a crime; it is child labour in its worst form, and a complete violation of a girl’s human rights.

Conference further believes that “child marriage” should be included amongst the worst forms of child labour as defined by the ILO core convention 182, Worst forms of child labour.

Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to work to work with the National Women’s Committee, the international committee, the TUC, AIDS Free World and other appropriate bodies to urge the ILO to take a principled stance, to treat child marriage as one of the worst forms of child labour under ILO core convention 182 and to take action to force governments to provide the resources for proper monitoring and implementation of the convention.