By Antony Gitonga
NAIVASHA, KENYA:There are 1.9 million child labourers in Kenya.
The number, according to the European Union, accounts for 17 percent of minors in the country with majority aged between 5-17 years.
Agriculture sector has been identified as the leading employer of minors in Kenya followed by the domestic sector.
According to EU, 82 percent of the domestic are girls from rural areas working in urban centers.
This emerged during the World Day against Child Labor day marked in Karuturi grounds in Naivasha whose theme was ‘No to child labour in domestic work’.
According D’Agostino Ogendo from the EU there were 220 million children worldwide who are involved in child labour.
“In Kenya there are around 1.9 million children employed as laborers and we have come to learn that there is a link between poverty and child labour,” she said.
She said that Latin America was the worst hit with the numbers increasing by the month despite some countries been members of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
In a speech read on his behalf by senior deputy commissioner of labor Isaiya Kirigua, Cabinet Secretary for Labour Kambi Kazungu expressed concern over the number of child labourers.
“Most child workers in Kenya urban households are girls aged between 10 and 13 years who are hired as house helps,” he said.
Kirigua noted that majority of the minors were lowly paid, over worked and sometimes sexually molested.
“The government is committed to eliminating child labour and promoting children’s rights and we have developed national child labour policy,” he said.
During the event the ILO regional coordinator Minoru Ogasawara said that in Kenya, girls accounted for 82 percent of child domestic workers.
“The reasons why children work in Kenya are to supplement household income, assist with household chores and parents directive for them to work,” he said.
Child representative Charity Shiunza from Lavinton Secondary School challenged the government to introduce harsh penalties on those employing children.
“The current laws are lenient on those employing minors and its time the vice was curbed as we are the future leaders,” she said.