(FiveNation.com)- Pope Francis might be woke, but he’s not the same kind of woke that ignores slavery and oppression over fears of being called racist. On Sunday, the Catholic leader denounced the widespread and ongoing child labor abuses occurring all over the world, describing it as a modern-day slavery.
The comments came a day after the United Nations held the “World Day Against Child Labor,” saying that it was impossible for the world to “close our eyes” to the continued exploitation of children in various countries.
Pope Francis called for renewed effort to elminate child labor. World Day against child labor was celebrated yesterday, he said+ according to the ILO 150 million children are being exploited today (= to populations of Spain, France+Italy),+deprived of right to play+ education.
— Gerard O'Connell (@gerryorome) June 13, 2021
He added the estimates from the International Labor Organization suggest that over 160 million children globally are being exploited and used for hard labor. That’s around the same number of people as the populations of Italy, France, and Spain combined.
The World Day Against Child Labor was launched by the U.N. in 2002 to raise awareness about the issue. The University of Iowa Labor Center also offers a definition of child labor, describing it not just as employment for children, but any kind of work that “harms children” or prevents them from attending school.
This week it was also revealed how child labor has surged for the first time in 20 years, and that the level of child labor is worst in sub-Saharan Africa. Child labor across Latin America, the Pacific, and Asia is generally in downward trend, with money invested in education and child protective services playing a huge role in that progress. However, sub-Saharan Africa’s continued high levels of poverty, along with HIV and AIDs, have played a huge role in the continued exploitation of children.
Child labor is most commonly used in the agricultural sector, which makes up about 70% of child labor, while 19.7% of children affected by this work in services including transportation and domestic work. The remainder work in mining, manufacturing, and construction.
It’s not the first time that the Pope has made comments like this. Here he is in 2018, speaking out for the rights of children used as infant soldiers, trafficked, or used for hard labor.