International Day against Child Labour
More than 150 million children worldwide are victims of child labour, with nearly half forced to work in hazardous, unhealthy conditions that could result in death or injury [Omar Havana/Getty Images]
Featured Documentaries

World Day Against Child Labour: Five must-watch documentaries

Child field workers in the US, Haiti’s ‘restaveks’, and miners in Bolivia; our picks for World Day Against Child Labour.

2019 marks 100 years since the founding of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Since then, multiple initiatives have been launched to raise awareness of the ongoing plague of child labour, including embedding the plight of children into the ILO’s constitution.

It is estimated that, worldwide, over 150 million children are engaged in some form of child labour. On the ILO’s World Day Against Child Labour, Al Jazeera joins governments, organisations and civilians all over the world in bringing attention to the plight of those struggling in the clutches of forced labour.

Children at Work in the US


The US child labour law is generally considered one of the strongest in the world in preventing minors from working in dangerous industries. But the agricultural sector is a lone exception.

On farms, children as young as 12 can legally work with parental approval. And many younger children can be found in the fields, working illegally.

Nobody knows the true number of children at work in the fields, but farmers reported hiring over 200,000 children under 18 in one year alone.

Fault Lines travels to the onion fields of Texas and the tobacco fields of Kentucky, to investigate how child labour affects migrant families, and who benefits from their work.

Myanmar’s Cycle of Debt


With its gleaming new shopping malls and high-rise apartment blocks, Yangon has become the symbol of Myanmar’s rapid economic growth. Yet in its poorest neighbourhoods, 85 percent of households are borrowing money from loan sharks, just to cover their basic living expenses.

As families struggle to make their repayments, many send their children out to work.

Aung Thet Paing’s mother decided to take him and his brother out of school and put them to work as rubbish collectors after her debts began spiralling out of control. They now spend their days searching for plastic bottles and tin cans that they can trade in for cash.

Myanmar has one of the worst rates of underage employment in the world. The government estimates that there are 1.3 million child labourers, many of whom are working to help pay off their parents’ debts. 

101 East travels to the slums of Yangon to meet the families drowning in debt and those making money from their misery.

Child Slaves: Haiti’s Restaveks


There are at least 8.4 million child slaves in the world today. Nearly two million of these are forced to work as prostitutes, while almost half a million are child soldiers. But the largest proportion of child slaves – more than five million – are held as forced labour.

In some countries, these child slaves are simply juvenile victims of a thriving adult slave culture, but in other countries, children are bought and sold specifically as child labourers.

This 2011 documentary investigates the plight of child slaves in Haiti – known as ‘restaveks’ from the French words ‘rester avec’, meaning ‘to stay with’. This is the practice of poor families giving their children as domestic help to wealthier acquaintances or relatives.

Too Young to Work


Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. To support their families, millions of children go out to work, many of them in hazardous conditions.

Poor families have relied on child labour for generations and social commentators claim that there are cultural reasons for widespread child labour in Bangladesh – including the belief it will train young people for work as adults and stop them becoming involved in crime.

101 East looks at Bangladesh’s struggle to tackle the issue of child labour.

Bolivia’s Child Miners


Jorge would like to be a lawyer but has no choice other than to work all day until his back hurts. Alex works in the mine because he has nothing to eat. He does not tell his mother about his work because it makes her cry.

These 13-year-old boys sneak into mines that adults find too dangerous or too unproductive to be worth the back-breaking labour it entails. Digging for the small amounts of tin left in the exhausted mountains of the Andes, the boys have to work in silence in case the rocks fall on them. If there is an accident the managers at the mine don’t want to take responsibility for it.

We found children too young to work mining for tin in Bolivia and trade union managers turning a blind eye to help the children’s families make ends meet.

But the dangerous conditions, which often result in illness and accidents, condemn these kids to short lives of back-breaking labour.