11/19/2021, 17.03
VATICAN
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Pope: child labour denies children’s right to play

“It is shocking and disturbing that in today’s economies, whose productive activities rely on technological innovations, so much so that we talk about the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, the employment of children in work activities persists in every part of the world. This endangers their health and their mental and physical well-being, and deprives them of the right to education and to live their childhood with joy and serenity.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis addressed participants attending an international conference titled Eradicating Child Labour, Building a Better Future, which was held today.

The meeting was promoted by the Vatican COVID-19 Commission of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the FAO, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The pontiff decisively expressed the Church’s condemnation of this practice, which is still widespread. The “scourge of the abuse child labour”, Francis said stems first of all from “the distortions in the current economic system, which centralises wealth in the hands of a few” along with “Extreme poverty, lack of work and the resulting desperation in families”. These factors “expose children most to labour exploitation”, aggravated most recently by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is shocking and disturbing that in today’s economies, whose productive activities rely on technological innovations, so much so that we talk about the “fourth industrial revolution”, the employment of children in work activities persists in every part of the world. This endangers their health and their mental and physical well-being, and deprives them of the right to education and to live their childhood with joy and serenity.”

“Child labour is not to be confused with the small domestic tasks that children, in their spare time and according to their age, can perform as part of family life, to help parents, siblings, grandparents or other members of the community.

“These activities are generally beneficial to their development, as they allow them to test their skills and grow in awareness and responsibility. Child labour is something else entirely! It is the exploitation of children in the production processes of the globalised economy for the profit and gain of others.

“It is the denial of children’s rights to health, education and harmonious growth, including the possibility to play and dream. This is tragic. A child who cannot dream, who cannot play, cannot grow up. It is robbing children of their future and therefore humanity itself. It is a violation of human dignity.”

“If we want to eradicate the scourge of child labour, we must work together to eradicate poverty, to correct the distortions in the current economic system, which centralises wealth in the hands of a few.

“We must encourage states and business actors to create opportunities for decent work with fair wages that enable families to meet their needs without their children being forced to work. We must combine our efforts to promote quality education that is free for all in every country, as well as a health system that is accessible to all without distinction.

“All social actors are called upon to combat child labour and its causes. The participation in this conference of representatives of international organisations, civil society, business and the Church is a sign of great hope.”

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