Academic journal article Population

Child Labour in Madagascar as Evidenced by the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey

Academic journal article Population

Child Labour in Madagascar as Evidenced by the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey

Article excerpt

In many African societies, children belong to a lineage and not to a couple, and may circulate between different members of the extended family (Lallemand, 1993). Under this system, children may be temporarily fostered, or given away permanently through adoption (Bledsoe, 1990; Castle, 1995; Etienne, 1979; Goody, 1982; Jonckers, 1997; Lallemand, 1988, 1993; Madhavan, 2004; Rabain, 1979). These practices are intended to create or strengthen mutual support and kinship ties within a social and familial mode of organization based on the principle that burdens must be shared across the entire family network (Antoine et al., 1995; Marie, 1997; Oppong, 1999; Pilon and Vignikin, 2006). While children frequently move around between relatives, both temporarily and permanently, such movements are much rarer outside the family circle.

However, this practice of child transfers for purposes of social exchange is becoming more diversified today. For several decades now, children have been fostered out to urban families in exchange for some domestic duties so that they can attend school (Jonckers, 1997; Vandermeersch, 2002). In a context of rural poverty, families are now less reluctant for their children to move to town to find work, or even encourage them to do so. Such practices are becoming increasingly widespread, and when the farming calendar so permits, a growing number of rural adolescents, at ever younger ages, now set off to look for an additional source of income (Delaunay et al., 2006; Erulkar et al., 2006). Children and adolescents who move to another household, on their own initiative or otherwise, may be exposed to various forms of discrimination (access to health care, food, education) and exploitation (labour, violence, including sexual violence).

Children generally enter the labour market via family networks. These networks are increasingly structured and organized, with limited family control (Jacquemin, 2009), and the risks of child exploitation are considerable. These aspects deserve fuller investigation. A study of young maids in Côte d'Ivoire identified various forms of child labour placement (Jacquemin, 2009). The first is an extension of the practice of child transfers; children are placed with relatives so that the family of origin has one less mouth to feed while the host family acquires an extra pair of hands in exchange for food, lodgings, health care and possibly education ("little nieces"). The second form involves the family network, in the sense that the child is placed by a relative acting as "tutor", but in a non-kin household, in exchange for a small wage that is managed by the tutor ("rented child"). The third and most recent form involves intermediaries outside the family network (placement agencies, acquaintances). In such cases, the child is considered as a worker and receives a wage directly from the employer. These children, often referred to as "little maids", are generally older. Similar situations are described in other countries, including Senegal (Delaunay and Enel, 2009) and Mali (Lesclingand, 2004).

The issue of child labour has prompted intense concern over the last decade (Bonnet and Schlemmer, 2009; Invernizzi, 2003; White, 1996), and international directives have been issued to identify and eliminate the "worst forms of child labour", including types of work that are "likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children" (International Labour Organization, Convention no. 182).

This article proposes an indirect measure of situations of child labour based on Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data. While these surveys do not include information on employment, they provide data on children's residential situations. The measure proposed here is based on the postulate that a school-aged child living with non-relatives and not attending school is engaged in child labour. If this postulate is verified, it becomes possible to measure child labour indirectly in many countries and at different times. …

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