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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Children's Rights > Children's rights: reports of violations in Burma > Child labour in Burma

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Child labour in Burma

Individual Documents

Title: Child Labor in Myanmar’s Garment Sector
Date of publication: May 2016
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "‘Made in Myanmar’ is ready to make a comeback, with U.S. and EU markets newly re-opened for trade with Myanmar’s garment manufacturers. Buyers and investors are back in Yangon looking for opportunities, attracted in part by the country’s low labor costs. However, Myanmar has spent over a decade cut off from Western markets and the compliance culture that has evolved around social and environmental management of supply chains. Meeting buyer expectations now requires not only investing to meet higher requirements for speed and quality, but also ensuring that labor practices meet or exceed international standards. Child labor is a particular area of concern. In a country with high levels of poverty, low rates of secondary school enrollment, and weak enforcement of labor laws, child labor is unsurprisingly a common option for families in need of additional income. Underage workers (younger than 14, the legal minimum) are prevalent in many sectors, ranging from construction to teashops. What is a responsible buyer to do? So far, many buyers have chosen to limit their risk and exposure by working solely with established foreign-owned suppliers that already have years of experience adhering to supplier codes of conduct. These factories often require a minimum age for their workers of 16 or even 18, higher than the national legal requirement, which helps to reduce the risk of child labor in a country where age verification is difficult. While this may be an effective strategy for managing reputational risk, it ignores the broader context and real challenges of widespread poverty and scarce educational opportunities in Myanmar. It also neglects the potential for international investment and supply chains to contribute to a future where children in Myanmar spend their days in school, not in factories. And it overlooks the real risk that the use of child labor outside of responsible companies’ own supply chains will tarnish the “Made in Myanmar” brand. This report explains the context of child labor in Myanmar, both across sectors and specifically for garment manufacturing. Because there is no comprehensive data on the role of children in the garment sector, the findings are primarily based on interviews with key industry observers and participants. These findings include: » Young workers are participating in the garment sector but usually make up a small percentage of a factory’s workforce, and underage workers are rare. However, young workers are often working the same hours as adults, and laws regulating their working hours and conditions are not being enforced. » Increased access to U.S. and European markets is reshaping the garment industry, but the majority of factories are not yet selling to U.S. and European buyers, and their labor practices are lagging. As the garment manufacturing industry grows, the risk factors for child labor could change as well. The demand for low-cost labor will increase as new garment factories open. Other sectors of the economy are growing as well, heightening the competition for skilled workers. Meanwhile, new minimum wage BSR | Child Labor in Myanmar’s Garment Sector requirements are also affecting the profile of labor demand, and changes in industry structure could increase the risk of child labor if subcontracting and third-party suppliers become more common..."
Author/creator: Laura Ediger, Jeremy Prepscius and Chris Fletcher
Language: English
Source/publisher: BSR
Format/size: pdf (711K-reduced version; 1.1MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.bsr.org/reports/BSR_Child_Labor_Myanmar_Garment_Sector_2016.pdf
Date of entry/update: 05 June 2016


Title: Children for Hire - a portrait of child labor in Mon areas
Date of publication: November 2013
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "The growing domestic and international attention being paid to child labor in Burma, also known as Myanmar, signals a vital step in the country’s reform and development process. The advent of new funding to research the scope of the problem, proposed amendments to labor laws, and popularized documentaries exposing the lives of working children have indicated fresh interest in revealing and reducing the incidence of child labor. However, the catalyst for this report was sparked by observations that these proliferating activities and discussions are often largely restricted to urban areas, particularly regarding the well-known prevalence of Burma’s “teashop boys.” While urban forms of child labor warrant immediate and effective interventions, the ambiguity that shrouds less visible forms of the practice, especially occurring in rural ethnic villages and communities tucked against the country’s vast borderline, necessitates targeted illumination. During several interviews conducted for this report, civil society members and child protection officers described child labor in Burma as vastly under-researched, and said that accurate data from the country’s peripheral areas is almost nonexistent. Almost half of the occurrences of child labor documented for this report were found in agricultural practices, primarily on rubber plantations and betel nut farms. An equivalent number of children interviewed were working in furniture factories, waiting tables or washing dishes in small restaurants, or searching garbage for recyclables to redeem. Others still were engaged as day laborers, piecing together daily wages by clearing weeds on plantations, gathering grasses to make brooms, or working as cowhands or woodcutters. Income scarcity and food insecurity were central themes collected in many family narratives, but were also often rooted in other fundamental social issues. Poverty was not necessarily the sole cause of child labor, but rather the two were jointly symptomatic of poor access to education and healthcare, landlessness, migration, and the effects of decades of armed conflict and human rights abuses. Children, and particularly young girls, were also subject to social and gender norms that contributed to their entry into the workforce. The reduced likelihood that working children will complete their education and the increased risks associated with labor performed during children’s early developmental stages were found to feed directly back into these same family burdens that led to child labor. In short, the many interconnecting social issues, economic and labor policies, and community histories surrounding child labor in rural areas are beyond the scope of this report to fully catalogue or evaluate. Instead, the research presented herein telescopes in on a very small but highly underreported area of child labor, and aims to amplify the voices and cast a light on the experiences of rural working children in Mon areas."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Woman and Child Rights Project (WCRP)
Format/size: pdf (2.2MB-reduced version; 3MB-original))
Alternate URLs: http://www.rehmonnya.org/reports/childrenforhire.pdf'>http://www.rehmonnya.org/reports/childrenforhire.pdf
http://www.rehmonnya.org
Date of entry/update: 21 November 2013


Title: Forced recruitment, child soldiers and abuse in the army: Interviews with SPDC deserters
Date of publication: 27 April 2009
Description/subject: "This report includes interviews with two deserters who fled the Burma Army in 2008 and spoke to KHRG about their experiences in February 2009. The interviews cover issues of forced recruitment, child soldiers, corruption and theft within the army, low moral and desertion, and the brutal treatment of both civilians and fellow soldiers by armed forces personnel..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Karen Human Rights Group Field Reports (KHRG #2009-F9)
Format/size: html, pdf (256 KB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.khrg.org/sites/default/files/khrg09f9.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 October 2009


Title: Spare the Child
Date of publication: September 2008
Description/subject: "Burma’s military government pays lip service to the rights of children, but still allows child labor and recruits underage soldiers..."
Author/creator: Aung Thet Wine
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 16, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 13 November 2008


Title: Breaking Through the Clouds: A Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project with Migrant Children and Youth Along the Borders of China, Myanmar and Thailand
Date of publication: May 2001
Description/subject: 1. Introduction; 1.1. Background; 1.2. Project Profile; 1.3. Project Objectives; 2. The Participatory Action Research (PAR) Process; 2.1. Methods of Working with Migrant Children and Youth; 2.2. Implementation Strategy; 2.3. Ethical Considerations; 2.4. Research Team; 2.5. Sites and Participants; 2.6. Establishing Research Guidelines; 2.7. Data Collection Tools; 2.8. Documentation; 2.9. Translation; 2.10Country and Regional Workshops; 2.11Analysis, Methods of Reporting Findings and Dissemination Strategy; 2.12. Obstacles and Limitations; 3. PAR Interventions; 3.1. Strengthening Social Structures; 3.2. Awareness Raising; 3.3. Capacity Building; 3.4. Life Skills Development; 3.5. Outreach Services; 3.6. Networking and Advocacy; 4. The Participatory Review; 4.1. Aims of the Review; 4.2. Review Guidelines; 4.3. Review Approach and Tools; 4.4. Summary of Review Outcomes; 4.4.1. Myanmar; 4.4.2. Thailand; 4.4.3. China; 5. Conclusion and Recommendations; 6. Bibliography of Resources.
Author/creator: Therese Caouette et al
Language: English
Source/publisher: Save the Children (UK)
Format/size: pdf (191K) 75 pages
Date of entry/update: May 2003


Title: Small Dreams Beyond Reach: The Lives of Migrant Children and Youth Along the Borders of China, Myanmar and Thailand
Date of publication: 2001
Description/subject: A Participatory Action Research Project of Save the Children(UK)... 1. Introduction; 2. Background; 2.1. Population; 2.2. Geography; 2.3. Political Dimensions; 2.4. Economic Dimensions; 2.5. Social Dimensions; 2.6. Vulnerability of Children and Youth; 3. Research Design; 3.1. Project Objectives; 3.2. Ethical Considerations; 3.3. Research Team; 3.4. Research Sites and Participants; 3.5. Data Collection Tools; 3.6. Data Analysis Strategy; 3.7. Obstacles and Limitations; 4. Preliminary Research Findings; 4.1. The Migrants; 4.2. Reasons for migrating; 4.3. Channels of Migration; 4.4. Occupations; 4.5. Working and Living Conditions; 4.6. Health; 4.7. Education; 4.8. Drugs; 4.9. Child Labour; 4.10. Trafficking of Persons; 4.11. Vulnerabilities of Children; 4.12. Return and Reintegration; 4.13. Community Responses; 5. Conclusion and Recommendations... Recommendations to empower migrant children and youth in the Mekong sub-region... "This report provides an awareness of the realities and perspectives among migrant children, youth and their communities, as a means of building respect and partnerships to address their vulnerabilities to exploitation and abusive environments. The needs and concerns of migrants along the borders of China, Myanmar and Thailand are highlighted and recommendations to address these are made. The main findings of the participatory action research include: * those most impacted by migration are the peoples along the mountainous border areas between China, Myanmar and Thailand, who represent a variety of ethnic groups * both the countries of origin and countries of destination find that those migrating are largely young people and often include children * there is little awareness as to young migrants' concerns and needs, with extremely few interventions undertaken to reach out to them * the majority of the cross-border migrants were young, came from rural areas and had little or no formal education * the decision to migrate is complex and usually involves numerous overlapping factors * migrants travelled a number of routes that changed frequently according to their political and economic situations. The vast majority are identified as illegal immigrants * generally, migrants leave their homes not knowing for certain what kind of job they will actually find abroad. The actual jobs available to migrants were very gender specific * though the living and working conditions of cross-border migrants vary according to the place, job and employer, nearly all the participants noted their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse without protection or redress * for all illnesses, most of the participants explained that it was difficult to access public health services due to distance, cost and/or their illegal status * along all the borders, most of the children did not attend school and among those who did only a very few had finished primary level education * drug production, trafficking and addiction were critical issues identified by the communities at all of the research sites along the borders * child labour was found in all three countries * trafficking of persons, predominantly children and youth, was common at all the study sites * orphaned children along the border areas were found to be the most vulnerable * Migrants frequently considered their options and opportunities to return home Based on the project’s findings, recommendations are made at the conclusion of this report to address the critical issues faced by migrant children and youth along the borders. These recommendations include: methods of working with migrant youth, effective interventions, strategies for advocacy, identification of vulnerable populations and critical issues requiring further research. The following interventions were identified as most effective in empowering migrant children and youth in the Mekong sub-region: life skills training and literacy education, strengthening protection efforts, securing channels for safe return and providing support for reintegration to home countries. These efforts need to be initiated in tandem with advocacy efforts to influence policies and practices that will better protect and serve migrant children and youth."
Author/creator: Therese M. Caouette
Language: English
Source/publisher: Save the Children (UK)
Format/size: pdf (343K) 145 pages
Alternate URLs: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/54_5205.htm
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/docs/small_dreams.pdf
Date of entry/update: May 2003


Title: When Hard Times Hit, Some Children Go to Factories
Description/subject: RANGOON, Feb 16, 2010 (IPS) - Fifteen-year-old Cho Cho Thet knows little about the world outside of the garments factory where she works. Thet works 14 hours each day – from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. – seven days a week, but receives a salary of only 35,000 kyat (35 U.S. dollars) a month. The factory owner provides free accommodation and meals that include rice and vegetables. "Working under a roof is better than working in the rice field under the sun or the rain. I don’t feel tired at all here," Thet told IPS. The girl was recently promoted from helper to operator after two years.
Author/creator: Mon Mon Myat
Language: English
Source/publisher: IPS
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=50346
Date of entry/update: 02 November 2010


Title: You Die with It or You Fight for It
Description/subject: "Khaing Hla Pyaint is an incredibly determined young Arakanese man who decided that whatever it takes, he will work for his country and help his people. On a long journey from Arakan State near Bangladeshi border to the Thai border town of Mae Sot, Khaing Hla Pyaint experienced deportation, imprisonment, and torture, until he could finally reach his goal and become a soldier in the jungles of Karen State. Despite the hardship, Khaing Hla Pyaint has never regretted the choices he has made. Why was he so determined to work for his country? How did his childhood experiences and further education make him realise he wants to help his people? Read the second part of the unbelievable story of this young dedicated soldier and learn how he feels about the root causes of the conflict, and how he thinks the international community and donors can promote change instead of funding more arms and training for the Burma Army."...See the Alternate link for part 2.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalink.org/my-aim-in-life-is-to-work-for-my-country-but-i-ended-up-on-a-fishing-boat/
Date of entry/update: 21 March 2016