12 June marks the World Day Against Child Labour Of course, no one forces Belarusian children to work in factories, in the fields, at construction sites, and it may seem that the problem of child exploitation does not concern us. However, it is not true: teenagers in detention are forced to work in the rubber and furniture industry, or knitting flannels, and get a penny for it. The boys’ wages in the correctional colony in Bobruisk range from 0.60 to 1.66 euro a month. Girls in colony No. 4 (where there is a juvenile detachment) were paid up to 10 dollars per month.
Products made by the hands of Belarusian children in custody are sent not only to stores in the country, but also abroad. In the colony “Wolf holes” in Ivatsevichi, there are children who were imprisoned under the “anti-drug” article 328 – there are also those who were detained by minors with the use of torture. There is a woodworking workshop in this place. By the way, wooden products made by Belarusian prisoners are bought in France at prices ranging from 300 to 600 euros – and the prisoners themselves receive 0.23 euros per month.
The Mogilev state special school of a closed type No. 2, where difficult teenagers from 14 to 18 years old study, also earns money through child labour. The guys make custom-made stools, cabinets, furniture sets. The foreman, considering the labour participation rate, distributes the earnings. The money, according to the deputy director for educational and production work, goes to the students’ accounts, but the specific amounts are not named.
Inmates of the women’s colony No. 4 are engaged in sewing and knitting washcloths. The uniforms, sewn by girls, are worn by hockey players of Belarusian clubs, policemen, doctors, cooks, and military men. For example, medical clothes made by the hands of prisoners are offered to buy at a price of 5.99 to 8.65 euros, a set of bed linen – from 12.98 to 14.64 euros, and some of its parts – from 2.33 to 14.31 euros. … The salary, according to information from the political prisoner Natalia Hershe, who is in the colony, is 2.22 euros.
Sewing is also done by underage girls at the Petrikov State Specialised Vocational School of Closed Type No 1 for Light Industry. Here is the same prison: daily routine, parcels, rare visits with relatives … Even the catalog of the manufactured products is posted on the institution’s website, as is the case with adult prisoners. But there is no information about the salaries of girls.
On World Day Against Child Labour, ICСI “Our House” demands a halt to the use of minors in productive activities in Belarus. We ask you not to buy the products of the Belarusian enterprises of the Department for the Execution of Punishments, as underage boys and girls may be involved in its production. Children are injured at work, their health is damaged, and the money they earn ends up in the pockets of bureaucrats and law enforcement officials.