Tobacco Children in Indonesia – level 3

18-09-2018 15:00

People estimate that more than 1.5 million children in Indonesia work in the agricultural sector – mainly in tobacco, rubber and palm oil plantations.

Those who work on tobacco farms plant it, apply pesticides, harvest, bundle and dry the leaves,  and do all of this mostly with bare hands.

The working conditions are hazardous and the children suffer from ‘green tobacco sickness’ – an acute nicotine poisoning. Some of the symptoms they commonly experience are nausea, headaches and dizzy spells.

In Indonesia, hiring children under 15 years of age is illegal, but traders or companies do not directly hire the children. They skip school or drop out altogether in order to help their families make a living. One day’s work earns them an equivalent of a dollar a day.

The firms who buy the tobacco never question the process behind the production, which is what groups like Human Rights Watch are trying to change. They reached out to some of the biggest companies operating in Indonesia, asking them to educate the families about the dangers of this work.

Indonesia is one of a few countries that have not signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a global public health treaty aimed at protecting the population from the consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Difficult words: pesticide (something which kills insects), harvest (gather, get), bundle (tie or roll up together), hazardous (dangerous), nausea (a feeling of sickness), dizzy (weak, not feeling well), spell (a short period of time), treaty (an agreement, a deal, a pact).

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