The number of child workers is estimated between 100 million and 200 million worldwide with most working in violation of numerous international labor standards, a U.S. government study said this week.
In addition, a majority of children in developing countries work long hours for substandard wages under unhealthful conditions, the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs study reported.They are more often employed in jobs not regulated by national laws, for example as domestic servants, street vendors or prostitutes, the study found, and they sometimes face various forms of exploitation, especially by adult co- workers.
Titled "By the Sweat and Toil of Children: The Use of Child Labor in American Imports," the study said that Asia has more than 50 percent of child laborers, while Africa had the highest percentage of children working, almost one in three.
They are exploited because they are "less demanding, more obedient and less likely to object to their treatment or conditions of work," the study concluded. "They have few if any legal rights and are often abused."
To counter this, a number of governments are joining such organizations as Unicef and the International Labor Organization.
But "too many governments contend that they lack the financial and other resources to successfully battle the exploitation of child labor," the study found.
The difficulty is also increased because those governments are reluctant to document illegal activities under their domestic child-labor laws, for fear of being perceived as having failed in public policy.