Re: The Theory of child Labour Transition

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Subject: Re: The Theory of child Labour Transition
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Fri Feb 18 2000 - 08:48:59 EST

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Just a couple of questions - how do you define "commerical exploitation"?
To me this includes all forms of labor, not just forced prostitution. Is
this what you mean?

I am by no means an expert in the history of Nepal; however, weren't people
"bonded" to work for before the 1950s?

I'm not sure that your idea works in relation to other countries with high
rates of child trafficking, for example Thailand, Burma, India, etc.
Thailand, for example, has a long history of bonded labor where men were
bonded to work for the King.

Just a couple of thoughts.


>Dear Melani,
>Please find below the "Theory of Child Labour Transition" which I
>conceptualized a few days ago, borrowing ideas from the Theory of
>Demographic Transition and the Theory of Fertility Transition, for a wider
>circulation. The theory is still in a developing stage.
>The theory says that child labour, especially the worst forms of child
>labour (trafficking in children for commercial exploitation, bonded child
>labour and children in hazardous child labour condition) (WFCL) is a
>temporary phenomenon. It arises due to certain social conditions and can
>be eliminated if appropriate interventions are designed and implemented.
>The worst form of child labour has three stages. In the first stage, the
>WFCL starts rising from a low level until it reaches to a high peak. In
>the second stage it remains constant at that high level. In this stage the
>national and international agencies realize the problem and come up with
>interventions to reduce it. In the third (final) stage, it starts falling,
>because of interventions. It WFCL curve will fall until it reaches to a
>low level.
>Example: In Nepal, there was no bonded child labour prior to 1950. The
>system of bonded child labour developed only after the implementation of
>malaria eradication programme in the late 1950s and the mass migration of
>hill people in the Mid-Western and Far-Western Terai. The mass migration
>led and change in social and economic structure of that area. Some people
>became rich and others poor as a result of this in-migration. The poor had
>to borrow money for their survival. Since the poor could not pay the debt
>they borrowed from the landlord, they offered themselves to be in bondage
>for a period of one year. They could not pay the debt the next year also.
>So the bondage continued. Slowly, the wife and children also became the
>part of the bondage. When the father in bondage died, the debt of the
>landlord was transferred to his sons. When the son in bondage got married,
>his wife became a part of the bondage.
>The system of bonded labour in Nepal's Mid-and-Far Western Terai reached
>its peak around 1990 and remained constant during 1990-95 period. Although
>His Majesty's Government of Nepal had started actions against bonded
>labour prior to 1990, the national and international agencies started
>intervention against bonded labour and bounded child labour in a greater
>scale after this date. The interventions has lead to a fall in the bounded
>labour and bonded child labour to a certain extent. With interventions,
>the fall will continue until it reaches to a low level.
>The intensity of fall in the bonded child labour curve is determined by
>the type of interventions that we imply. The fall will be rapid if
>determinants are clearly identified and programmes designed to hit these
>determinants. We have to understand that bonded labour and bonded child
>labour are the function of certain determinants. The functional
>relationship can be shown by an equation, such as,
>x1 = f(y1,y2,y3, .............yn)
>where x1 = bonded labour or bonded child labour, and
>y1,y2,y3, ........, etc. are the determinants
>The more we know about the determinants, the more our life becomes easier.
>The above-mentioned example applies to child trafficking and other
>hazardous forms of child labour as well. However, the elimination of child
>trafficking, is more difficult than the elimination of bonded child
>labour, because of the links of child trafficking with commercial sex
>work, one of the oldest profession.
>I think, all countries, should think of preparing analytical report on the
>state of child labour transition in their country. We can have reports
>like, Child Labour Transition in Nepal, Child Labour transition in
>Tanzania, Child Labour Transition in Mexico, etc. We can compile the
>reports of all countries in Asia and draw a summary on child labour
>transition for Asia. Similarly, we can draw a summary for Africa, Latin
>America, developed countries, developing countries, for the whole world,
>etc. This will greatly enhance our knowledge base on the WFCL, which will
>help us in designing programmes to eliminate it.

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