February 15, 1998 in Nation/World

Thousands March As Part Of Campaign To Stop Child Labor Bangkok First Stop For Global Initiative

Associated Press

About 4,000 people marched Saturday through Bangkok as part of the Global March Against Child Labor, a campaign to protect children who are forced to work.

The marchers chanted “Go March - Stop Child Labor” as they paraded in smoggy tropical heat over a two-mile route that ended near the colorful spires of the Grand Palace.

“It’s not Valentine’s Day for me,” said Sodsai Boonnak, 17, who went to work in Thailand’s garment factories after completing sixth grade. Sodsai is paid $3.80 for eight hours of carting up to 600 pounds of cotton at a time around his factory.

The marchers included 2,500 children, mostly from Bangkok schools, plus a group of 50 who are bringing the procession to Asian countries.

The march seeks to promote children’s rights, particularly the right to education and freedom from economic exploitation, dangerous occupations and work that damages children physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

There are an estimated 250 million child laborers worldwide who are forced to work and who abandon school at an early age. The march is backed by about 300 organizations and is supported by the International Labor Organization.

The Bangkok leg follows processions by the core marchers, joined by thousands of local people, in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. The core marchers travel next to Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey. They will eventually meet up in Geneva with other marchers from Latin America and Africa as the ILO drafts a new accord banning the most intolerable forms of child labor.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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