tobacco farms

Child labour and abuse common on Zimbabwe tobacco farms

The Zimbabwe tobacco farms are seemingly not a good place for any human being. According to this Human Rights group, children are suffering.

tobacco farms

International group, Human Rights Watch, has compiled an alarming report revealing serious malpractice in Zimbabwe’s tobacco farming industry.

The report is titled “A Bitter Harvest: Child Labour and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe,” and shows how children work in dangerous conditions doing work that damaged their health, safety and education.

“Zimbabwe’s government needs to take urgent steps to protect tobacco workers,” Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report, said.

“Companies sourcing tobacco from Zimbabwe should ensure that they are not buying a crop produced by child workers sacrificing their health and education.”

Child workers are exposed to nicotine as well as toxic pesticides. The report also shows that many suffer with symptoms that match nicotine poisoning from handling the tobacco leaves. The adults are facing the same risks.

Al Jazeera reports that children accompany their parents to the country’s largest auction floor to sell their tobacco. The families are forced to sleep on the floor overnight due to the long distances of travelling to get back home.

With many families unable to afford labour, some are forced to depend on tobacco and children’s work. The children are often forced to drop out of school or miss classes for long periods.

The report indicates that the child labour issues and human rights abuses on Zimbabwean tobacco farms are likely to damage the industry’s contributions to the country. Globally, the industry is worth $900m.

Many of the world largest multinational tobacco companies purchase tobacco grown in Zimbabwe. The big boys are all there: British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco Group, and Imperial Brands.

“Most of the multinational companies involved have policies prohibiting their suppliers from using child labour and engaging in other human rights abuses, but oir findings suggest there are serious gaps in carrying out and monitoring these policies in Zimbabwe.”

“Tobacco companies should explicitly prohibit direct contact by children with tobacco in any form, conduct regular and rigorous human rights monitoring in the supply chain, and report transparently on their findings,” Human Rights Watch said.

Humans Rights Watch has since met with the Zimbabwean government to try and find a safer way for all working in the local industry.