Child labourers in Thailand

Child labourers in Thailand

According to the ILO (2006), some of the worst forms of child labour persist in Thailand: “victims of trafficking, working children under 15 years old, children used in begging, and children in domestic labour. Others sectors include child labour in some manufacturing and fishery industries, services such as karaoke bars and restaurants, and in the agricultural sector. Vulnerable groups include children of minority groups, migrant children, and children in poverty.” Some 300,000 teenagers 15-17 are employed and registered, maybe many more unregistered. In one study, some 35% of child labourers interviewed were under the legal age of 15. Around 40% were working at night or unspecified hours. About 40% reported being exposed to high levels of dust and smoke. Half were being paid less than 2,000 baht (= $63) a month, less than half the legal minimum wage. Sexual abuse was limited (7%), but probably under-reported. Cropley ( ) tells the story of a young Mon girl from Burma working under abusive conditions in a Thai shrimp factory. There are huge numbers of Burmese child labourers in many industries in Thailand, often heavily exploited, and as ‘illegal’ migrants left with virtually no rights or protections (See ; provides a good overview). Child labour in Bangladesh is widespread:  Here the striking story of Halima, aged 11:

Ask your classes: What do you know about child labour?

This powerful video on child labourers in Thailand can be watched before reading on: Sawai, a former child labourer in a factory in Thailand, has told her story in simple English. Read her story here:

In a preliminary exercise, students can discuss what they know or have heard about child labour in their country. Some may know a family with a child working as a domestic, or have seen children working in their own neighborhoods or towns. Students can read the excellent site Child Labor and the Global Village: Photography for Social Change ( ). It has 12 FAQs with brief answers, and then highlights the stories of six child workers, with striking photos. Students could imagine an interior monologue for Miriam in Peru, a brickmaker, or Sankar in India, a seller of water at a train station in Orissa state, both aged 13. The FAQs can make a basic and probing multi-group discussion as a set induction to the broader issue of child labour:

  • What is child labour?
  • What is a child?
  • Who are child labourers and how many are there?
  • Where do child labourers live?
  • Is there child labour in the United States?
  • What do child labourers do?
  • Why should we care?
  • How can ordinary people help reduce child labour?
  • How was child labour reduced in today’s developed countries?
  • What are some of the myths or misunderstandings about child labour?
  • What causes child labour today?
  • What are some of the solutions to child labour today?


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