As Pakistan reels from the brutal murder of child laborer Zohra Shah, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly announced that the coroanvirus pandemic could create millions of more child laborers.
The organizations noted that the number of child laborers in the world had steadily declined and had decreased by 94 million since the year 2000. But, the two agencies noted that the COVID-19 pandemic, wreaking global economic havoc and lowering family incomes, may force families to make their children work, and that this may cause the first rise in child labor in two decades.
Previously, the World Bank forecast that up to 60 million people could be thrust into extreme poverty in 2020 alone. In their brief, the ILO and UNICEF pointed out studies and reports that illustrate a high correlation between rising poverty and increase in child laborers. They explained that “In times of crisis, child labour becomes a coping mechanism for many families” and that children who lose one or both parents to the virus may be forced to step in to earn for their families. Additionally, children already engaged in labor may find themselves in harsher working conditions due to cost-cutting measures being employed globally.