Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has described prostitution as a worst form of child labour which affects children’s prospects for a better future.
MCTU secretary general Pontius Kalichero said this when he opened a three-day law enforcement workshop in Mulanje on Wednesday.
“The most common forms of child labour in Malawi happen in the agriculture and domestic sectors. Some children are also involved in worst forms of child labour such as prostitution. The majority of victims, according to the Malawi Child Labour Survey of 2002, are girls,” he said.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 categorises prostitution, sexual abuse, child soldiers, forced bondage, slavery, child trafficking, using children to smuggle fire arms and drugs, using children in mines and to applying dangerous chemicals to goods and raw materials as worst forms of child labour.
The workshop noted that some children in the district are exposed to most of the exploitation contained in the ILO convention.
Child labour, according to ILO, is any work done by children that negatively affect their education, moral, physical, mental and spiritual growth.
Kalichero said although Malawi has policies and laws against child labour, implementation is a major challenge.
He cited the Employment Act, Code of Conduct on Child Labour, Education Act and the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act as some of the policy guidelines and laws that tackle child labour.
Kalichero stressed the need for collaboration to provide effective remedies against the malpractice.
MCTU organised the workshop in partnership with ministries of Labour, Education, Agriculture, Gender and Children’s Welfare, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi, informal traders associations and traditional leaders in the district.
ILO monitoring and evaluation officer Gracious Ndalama said the aim of the meeting was to inform participants about policies, laws and conventions that fight child labour.
One of the participants Mary Duwe said the meeting has come at a right time when children in the district are being used to smuggle goods from Mozambique.
At the end of the meeting, the participants drew up an action plan to fight child labour.