Children as young as 9 are working in illegal gold mines in Manila, Philippines
The Human Rights Watch has been interviewing hundreds of miners in Manila for a few years. It is reported that children as young as 9 are being employed in gold mines by businessmen and owners of the mines. These children are forced to work under terrible working conditions
More precisely, the Human Rights Watch reports that these children work under water for hours on end, breathing only through a pipe that is attached to a tank on the boat above them. In the event there is a constriction issue with the pipe, the children face terrible earaches, ‘sometimes to the point of bursting’, according to a boy that was interviewed.
Not only being under water for hours and being at risk of drowning or skin infections, these children are also subjected to the harsh melting process of the gold. Gold is processed with mercury and this metal has been proven to cause irreversible damage to a person’s health and even death.
A government statistic in 2011 reported of the 5 million people who worked in the mine, 3.2 million were children!
The report by the Human Rights Watch said that, although the government of the Philippines is against child labor, the authorities haven’t done much to enforce the law.
Instead, the government is focusing on providing more programs for children in the villages. These programs center on studies, extracurricular activities, and better healthcare. The government is even looking at a better source of income for families so they don’t have to send their young children to work in mines. Improved employment opportunities for parents are expected to allow more the children to go to school and allow parents to afford the fees.