Vatican City

Pope demands end to child labour

Francis says 'deplorable phenomenon' is 'real form of slavery'

Pope demands end to child labour

Vatican City, June 12 - Pope Francis made an appeal to end the widespread practice of minors being put to work on Wednesday, the World Day Against Child Labour. "It is a deplorable phenomenon which is constantly increasing, especially in poor countries," the Argentine pontiff said. UNICEF said in a report on Tuesday that around 150 million children between the ages of five and 14 are used for labour. An estimated 115 million children between the ages of five and 17 are employed in heavy or dangerous work, such as carrying loads, coming in contact with chemicals or working long hours, UNICEF said. In his appeal Francis focused on children used as domestic workers. In a separate report released Wednesday, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said an estimated 10.5 million children worldwide are working as domestic workers in people's homes, in hazardous and sometimes slave-like conditions. Six and a half million of these child labourers are aged between five and 14 years-old and more than 71% are girls, the ILO said. "There are millions of children, mostly girls, who are victims of this hidden form of exploitation that often involves abuse, mistreatment and discrimination," said Francis. "This is a real form of slavery. "It is my heartfelt hope that the international community will initiate still more effective measures in addressing this authentic plague. "All children must be able to play, study, pray and grow, in their families, this in a harmonic context, in love and serenity but these people instead of playing are slaves, and this is a plague. "This is their right and our duty. A serene childhood allows children to look with confidence towards life and tomorrow. "Woe to those who stifle them in their joyful enthusiasm of hope".

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