9 Mar 2017

Children as young as 7 working in Samoa, report claims

5:53 pm on 9 March 2017

Children as young as 7 are working on the streets of Samoa's capital, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Its study found children are working on the streets of Apia for long hours as vendors, selling food, juice, razor blades, leis and lavalavas, or sweeping market floors.

It also raised concerns that some children were involved in the worst forms of labour including begging and selling drugs, and said they were at risk of sexual exploitation.

Most of the children surveyed had left school, mostly because of financial difficultires, while nine of nearly 70 children surveyed had never been to school.

In a speech, Samoa's labour minister, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, said the report was possible because of the childrens' bravery.

"I would like to thank all the working children who bravely participated in the research and the officials and representatives from all agencies and organisations who tirelessly worked to identify and interview these children," he said.

The ILO report called for an effort to provide working children with access to education, counselling and remdial support.

It also called on the government to establish a system of child monitoring and enforcement, and to design and implement programmes to address poverty and youth unemployment.