November 30, 2020

Honduran girls forced to work for poverty that affects 59% of them

The machismo prevailing in Honduras and poverty force girls to work to find better living conditions, but that situation makes them vulnerable to child exploitation or victims of human trafficking, according to humanitarian organizations.

Jorge Valladares, of the World Vision organization, told Efe that the majority of the population of Honduras, including minors, have limited access to minimum welfare conditions.

According to figures from the humanitarian organization in Honduras, there are 1.7 million girls and adolescents, 59.1% of them live in poverty.

Children also suffer discrimination by class, gender and ethnicity, a situation that contributes to deepening their social vulnerability, according to humanitarian and civil society organizations.

Cultural practices cement child labor in Honduras, where the minimum age for work is legally 16 years old, but the adolescent can only work outside school hours and no more than six hours a day.

"These conditions of vulnerability are marked by the cultural aspect, there is a macho approach and a concealment of forms of exploitation and abuse towards girls," said Valladares, coordinator of the Bright Vision Futures program at World Vision.

The backdrop of child labor is poverty, said Valladares, who said that girls who drop out of school to work are "doomed to be poor" and, therefore, their future "is put at risk."

According to figures from the NGO, some 200,000 girls under the age of 17 carry out unpaid household chores such as taking care of siblings, making food and attending to different aspects of the home.

Valladares stressed the importance of the authorities focusing their efforts on meeting the education and health needs of girls.

Child labor makes girls vulnerable to networks of human trafficking and trafficking, which often use them as "cannon fodder," he added.

The Honduran government has promoted public policies against child labor but, according to Valladares, it is necessary to generate opportunities for families and raise awareness in society to eradicate this scourge.

Honduras also has the second highest rate in Latin America in adolescent pregnancy, since one in four births is under the age of 19.

The rate of pregnancies in Honduras is 24%, said Valladares, who said that 3 out of 10 girls do not complete their studies at the secondary level and 6 out of 10 do not reach the fifth grade of primary school.

He said that investing in the younger population is a "key factor" for the success and development of a country.

"Teen pregnancy is a national epidemic and very little is done about it," said the World Vision executive.

According to the 2018 situation report on the Rights of Children and Adolescents, early pregnancy is an "obstacle for mothers to get out of poverty, as they are forced to find ways of survival for themselves and their children."

The director of Honduras International Plan, Verónica Zambrano, told Efe that girls have the ability to develop their life project.

Zambrano also asked to end the violence that affects girls and reduce the high number of teenage pregnancies.

He pointed out that women in most countries represent 52% of the population but are "left, mistreated and undervalued", so he urged the authorities and society to make a cultural change.

"We have to change and we have to say we are going to change the world by empowering these girls who will then grow up to be the women of the country and have to be able to access better ways of life," he said.

He regretted that 52% of Honduran girls do not study and urged the State to empower minors to improve their future.

He stressed the importance of creating opportunities to say: "Enough with violence, adolescent pregnancy, child labor and early marriage, let's say yes to education and change those representations that mortgage your future."

The director of Plan Internacional said that high poverty rates trigger child labor in Honduras, where many children drop out of school to earn money and help their family.

Anny Castro

. (tagsToTranslate) Girls (t) Hondurans (t) forced (t) work (t) poverty

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