Samoa govt. to ban child slavery

Apia, SAMOA — A proposed Bill on the Rights of the Child by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development could ban children under 14 years old from being street vendors.

The proposed Bill is part of the Ministry’s plan to address core issues that deal directly with child labor and street vendors in Samoa. 

This was confirmed by the outgoing C.E.O, Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo-Tuilaepa, during an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

Last week, the United States Bureau of International Labor Affairs, named Samoa as one of the countries with some of the “worst forms of child labor”. 

A copy of the report obtained by the Samoa Observer highlights the fact that children in Samoa perform “dangerous tasks” such as street vending at all hours of night and day.

“In 2016, Samoa made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor,” the report reads. 

Fuimapoao told the Samoa Observer the issue is difficult and challenging. 

“We have put emphasis on putting together a comprehensive legal framework which looks at the children’s care, but ultimately the aim is for the parents to have the ability to support their children in areas they are not at risk,” she said. 

“We piloted a program in 2016 called the Samoa Supporting Children initiative; this is all part of addressing core issues of child labor. 

“These programs we have worked with 11 families in giving them pathways to create their own businesses and for the children to return to school. 

“The first thing we have set aside is being judgmental and to be quite honest, unless you have walked in the shoes of these parents or mothers, you cannot pass judgment. 

“We don’t want our parents to feel stigmatized because that can draw different reactions and most of them are negative and we also don’t want to stigmatize these children because if you talk to them, they see it as their duty to help their parents out. 

“I know everyone is concerned about this issue, but please don’t judge because we don’t want to stigmatize them. 

“We need to be looking at what is the root causes of these issues and a lot is around economic opportunities. 

“Also sometimes these parents they go back to educational opportunities they themselves had. 

“So part of what we are working is to develop different pathways either for the parents or the children to get back into businesses and educational opportunities.  

“But ultimately the aim is for the parents to have the ability to support their children in areas they are not at risk. 

Read more at Samoa Observer

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