What Are Common Forms of Child Labor In Asia?

The International Labour Organization estimates that 17 million children between 5 and 14 years old are victims of child labor in Asia.1 Child labor is a significant issue in this region. Children can work in many domestic industries, including garment and footwear factories, mining, plantations or even scavenging.

  • Agriculture — Children work in forestry or on small or industrial farms with livestock or produce. Children help remove rocks from soil, harvest crops, care for animals and handle farming equipment.
  • Fisheries — Children, particularly boys, are crucial to the fishing industry throughout Asia. Children may work on docks, markets or directly on boats to help fishing crews. Children may dive for fish or work on fishing nets. Children may also load, unpack, clean, salt and prepare fish to be sold.
  • Garment factories — Child workers are nimble and cheap factory help. Child laborers work in textile and garment factories to sew buttons, cut, dye and sort fabric and package completed clothing.
  • Mining — Mining is one of the worst forms of child labor. Children crawl through small tunnels to carry supplies to miners, find minerals or move heavy loads of rock. Mines expose children to explosives, collapsing tunnels and unhealthy levels of dust.

Many children in Asia are also victims of child trafficking and sexual exploitation. Child traffickers often convince parents that the jobs offered to their children pay well or have other benefits; other traffickers kidnap children from small villages to sell into slavery or use for their businesses. Any form of child labor or slavery is troubling.

Children may work up to 12-14 hours daily only to bring home a meager $0.60 to $1.20 for their labor.2 Child workers can experience respiratory illnesses, viral infections, physical injuries and many forms of abuse. In addition, child laborers often do not have the time or energy to attend school. Many child laborers fall behind in school or cannot complete their education, which contributes to poverty. Through education, children learn valuable skills, such as literacy, math and relational skills.

You can help protect children in Asia from child labor today. Please consider supporting GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program. For $35 a month, you can help a child, their family and their community break the cycle of poverty through community-wide solutions, which may include opportunities for education, medical care, protection against malnutrition, clean water and more. When children can attend school with the proper supplies, food and resources, families do not have to resort to child labor.

Learn more about countries with child labor

1 “Child labour in South Asia.” International Labour Organization. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.ilo.org/newdelhi/areasofwork/child-labour/WCMS_300805/lang–en/index.htm.
2 “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.” Food is Power. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://foodispower.org/human-labor-slavery/slavery-chocolate/.