50,000 children in Greece obliged to join work force

As many as 250 million children all over the world work in harsh conditions, and in Brazil alone, 500,000 children – mostly girls – have been forced into prostitution by the country’s sex rackets. The abduction of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation has taken on alarming dimensions in both developed and developing countries. These statistics were presented on Thursday at a meeting organized by the Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights and the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), striking a grim note for the United Nations’ International Day Against Child Labor. As for Greece, which GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said implements «deficient and inadequate» measures to protect children, 8.2 percent of the population aged 15-19 work – namely, around 50,000 children, 17.6 of whom are foreign born. The number of workers aged under 14 is not definite, but is estimated at around 7,000. These are the official statistics, which usually do not reflect the harshness of reality. Pressure to work The main reasons which impel children into the work force are economic pressure, unequal educational opportunities according to geographical region, a difficult family environment and the increasing number of migrants. As many as 250 million children all over the world work in arduous conditions, and numbers in Brazil alone, show that 500,000 children – most of them girls – have been forced into prostitution. Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas recently set up a special committee to document which forms of work should be prohibited, in an attempt to coordinate action to put an end to the phenomenon of child labor in Greece. Polyzogopoulos believes that high quality, free, compulsory education must be made available to all children, and that emphasis should be placed on stricter monitoring to see that the legislation is implemented. The chief difficulty in tackling the problem is that of accurately recording the number of children working in heavy jobs. Giorgos Sakellion of the General Secretariat for Youth talked of establishing a national observatory for children’s rights which would aim «at furthering research and raising public awareness about issues concerning children’s rights.»

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