CHILD MATTERS or Slavery in Modern Times

“Twice a year in Carrickmacross and surrounding towns a fair was held where men and girls rented their labour to well-to-do farmers for six months. It was Ireland’s version of the slave market.”
(Patrick Kavanagh ‘The Hired Boy’)

As you know by my blogs, that I do have varied interests in life and the living all the way from fashion, humour, blondes & photos, even frogs et funerals to anything in-between to the more serious matters of current affairs, politics and policies, so here is a more serious one on this Children’s Day in Finland. This is an updated entry of autumn 2006.

A Few Facts on the Child Labour/Slavery

  • Child labour is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing countries. Africa and Asia together account for over 90 percent of total child employment. (World Bank Org.)
  • Children work the longest hours and are the worst paid of all labourers (The International Labour Office ILO in the World Bank Study Bequele and Boyden 1988).
  • Just 5 per cent of child labour worldwide is for the export industry. The rest is for local agriculture and domestic work in people’s homes. (The International Labour Organisation estimate)
  • One in eight children (179 million) around the world are involved in the worst forms of child labour – work which is hazardous to their physical, mental or moral well being. (The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate. BBC article(old) estimate 246 million (from years ago).
  • In Africa one in three children have jobs.
  • There are an estimated 500,000 child soldiers worldwide.


I did some research into the matter, so I decided to compile a few thoughts and facts on the same. First of all, it is not a new phenomenon but has been since time immemorial in almost every country in the world. We in the Western Europe do not have it blatantly into our face presently, but nevertheless it is there, as more and more of these children are smuggled into our towns and even into our neighbourhoods.

Secondly, as we see from the Facts above that I listed: only 5 per cent of the child labour is involved with the export business in the countries, the rest being in the domestic trades in their respective nations. This piece of news is most certainly ‘news’ to me for I have thought that the children would have been the main slave labour for producing export goods.

Anybody who has read/seen the films about the Dickens’ books like ‘Oliver Twist’ is acutely aware that the west has had their share of the children being treated as ‘nothing, nobody’ until the compulsory education, the child allowance and the general benevolence towards children became more of the norm. I am using that expression because as we know the child abuse is still rather widespread – but just in another way. The opening quote on this entry by Patrick Kavanagh was true to many other nations’ children in the times past, including Finland.
Even more facts:

  1. The International Labour Organization in 2005 estimated at least 2.4 million people have been trafficked.
  2. The United Nations estimates that 1.5 million children under 16 are trafficked worldwide each year. (Daily Telegraph article online 4.6.2006)


Fired Up Blonde, Riihele xx

The solution to this problem lies in my mind:


With the LEADERS of these nations who have the power to change the circumstances of these children through the legislation via education to empower them. Also, the children’s allowance et cetera to make it worthwhile, so that the parents need not ‘sell’ or be forced to ‘hand over’ their children to this slavery. (It is the relatives in many cases who are forced to hand in the children as pawns for life because of debts accumulated.)
There is no excuse to say that there are no funds; I will not buy into that as other nations have done it with the means that they had at the time e.g. Finland from 1948 started to pay children’s allowance even though it was only three years after the wars while at the same time still paying both to Russia (reparation) and USA (loan) huge amounts of money and after losing tens of thousands of men in their best working age at the WWII.

The International Community at large through e.g. organizations* to implement pressure on the leadership in these nations to stop treating their young worse than cattle and give them life as a human beings fully participating in their own life and living.
( aka *ILO, World Bank, UNICEF et cetera)

I have already quoted articles by The World Bank, ILO – The International Labor Organisation et cetera – meaning: they know the problem and it is the high time to do something about it all instead just compiling more figures of the same!!

There are other things as the international business and manufacturing industry that many mentioned in the comments previously: yes shame and name them.

This will solve the other 5 per cent of the actual problem.

Only 5 per cent of the children are made to work in the export trade. That means that the 95 per cent are not. (These figures by ILO = The International Labour Organisation).

Child Matters pun in the name is this that a CHILD DOES MATTER; and also ‘matters’ as in subjects, issues, items, topics, questions and things concerning children.



January 27, was the annual official day for the remembrance of the victims of the Nazi-era worldwide and here is the what the UN has decreed on the same:

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27) is an annual international day of remembrance designated by an official resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 1, 2005.

The resolution urges every member nation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history as part of the resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. There can be no reversing the unique tragedy of the Holocaust. It must be remembered, with shame and horror, for as long as human memory continues. Only by remembering can we pay fitting tribute to the victims. Millions of innocent Jews and members of other minorities were murdered in the most barbarous ways imaginable. We must never forget those men, women and children, or their agony.” — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, January 27, 2006. (Wikipedia)

I was wondering as to ’why’ this day of January 27, until I realized that this is the day that the Soviets entered/liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps in 1945 where some 1,1 to 1,6 million people perished; 90 per cent of them Jews. My dad visited these camps about five to ten years later after the events and his comments were ‘that it still did smell very nauseatingly of burned flesh’ – amazing when one thinks of the time-lapse. He also had black and white photographs of the ovens, the barracks, the imposing entrance at Birkenau and generally of the camps. I did find these pictures very haunting to look at, by the way.

A further quote off Wikipedia:

“…about three-quarters of the total, went to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau within a few hours; they included all children, all women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be fully fit.

In the Auschwitz Birkenau camp more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas produced from Zyklon B pellets, which were manufactured by two companies who had acquired licensing rights to the patent held by IG Farben….

At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as slaves between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perished through executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness. Some prisoners survived through the help of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,100 Polish Jews by diverting them from Auschwitz to work for him, first in his factory near Kraków and later at a factory in what is now the Czech Republic.”

In my entry on Amsterdam, some time back, I mentioned that I visited the Anne Frank House Museum and this is what I said then: The horror of the Nazi era came alive in the Anne Frank House where we spent hours looking, thinking and going from room to room in the Annex as it still looks like it was when the people and Anne herself were hiding in there. The bookshelf – so familiar from the book of Anne’s, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ – is still there…”

In Israel the day for the Holocaust Remembrance, Yom HaShoah, is in the spring which I have witnessed myself for a few times; this year it is on April 16; the Wikipedia puts it like this:

“On the eve of Yom HaShoah in Israel, there is a state ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority. At 10:00am on Yom HaShoah, throughout Israel, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes. Public transport (including virtually all highway vehicles) comes to a standstill for this period, and people stop and stand silent. During Yom HaShoah, public entertainment and many public establishments in Israel are closed by law. Israeli television and radio channels broadcast mourning songs and documentaries about the Holocaust, without commercials. All flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.

Also during this day, tens of thousands of Israeli high-school students, and thousands of Jews from around the world, hold a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what became known as “The March of the Living“, in defiance of the Holocaust Death Marches.”

Additional information: Oliver Lustig’s Presentation at I, Holocaust Remembrance Network.

Tis for now. Riihele xx

Photo is part of The Names at the Yad Vashem* Museum in Jerusalem by me.

*The origin of the name is from a Biblical verse: “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5) In Hebrew, “a memorial and a name” translates as yad va-shem. A literal translation would be “hand and name.” (Wikipedia)

Wanted: No Shrinking Violets

Velvet gloves

Photo: Family, makeover Riihele

iron fist/ hand in the velvet glove The iron hand as a symbol of powerful control is found from the early 1700s (the iron fist appears in 1740), but Thomas Carlyle attributes the coining of the expression ‘the iron hand in a velvet glove’, to mean autocratic rule beneath a softer exterior, to Napoleon, although it has also been attributed to other, earlier rulers. The expression is highly variable, iron fist being as common as iron hand and other variants including steel fist mailet fist and silk glove.

Source: Expressions & Sayings at

“Velvet gloves – iron fist!” That is the thought for today’s Newsies. These poshest of the posh hands in the velvet gloves belong to my Baby Girl. Cool, hey?

What has been on my mind lately is that this week* there was the celebration in Finland for the 100-years of the equal and universal voting rights for both men and women in Finland along with the fact that the Finnish parliament is celebrating also the centenary of its existence.

Finland was the first country in the world to give these rights to all and sundry of her citizens that were over the age of 24 years.The first 19 ladies who were elected to the parliament in the election’s of 1907 which was the very first one after the law came into power. The figure 19 stands when put into per cent as 9,5 of the total elect parliamentarians at the time. Today the numbers are 75 ladies and in per cent as 35,7 per cent of the total and also, anybody over 18-years can vote here in Finland. A hundred years later and only just over a third are women. Hmmm…I wrote some time back these thoughts in this entry about the women and ‘thinking’ plus politics.

It is true that New Zealand gave the women the rights to vote in 1893, though, her right for standing up for election was not granted until long afterwards. Also, Australia in 1903 allowed the dames to vote but they were not as full elected members until well into the 1950’s. In Britain the universal rights were given in 1928 and in Switzerland 1971 the ladies had the right to vote. Interesting.

Last month the first five women* in Kuwait were able to put up their names for the electorate for the first time ever in their country. Well done, I say. We will see at the end of this month how they did as the elections are scheduled to be held on the 29th of June. Quoting the BBC article by Julia Wheeler thus: “…all Kuwaiti-born citizens over 30 can stand if they know how to read and write Arabic are registered on the electoral roll and do not have a criminal record.”

Another factor – lads, BTW, I am not a fiercely angry feminist but I am a very feminine lady who knows where she is at – is the unequal pay for the women for an equally demanding work where both have the same or similar education and experience. I wrote about it in this entry in here. Even in Scandinavia that is supposed to be the most equal part of the world in almost every way to the dames – the dame’s dollar/euro/krona is still only about 80 per cent of the man’s.

One thing that really, really bothers me in this Land of mine – Finland – is the extreme violence that so many women are subjected to daily by their spouses. I take that there are some and these days even more of the hostile women to men as well. No doubt about that. Still the figures show that every 6 minutes a female in this land is attacked by her spouse, every day 246 women are attacked physically by a male and every second week one dies due to the injuries and violence by the man in her life. Shocking.

On the one hand there are the great rights to vote – that is great – and then on the other hand this horrid violence. I did not know this until I returned back here. This is the reason I was quite stunned about the Amnesty International taking this violence issue up with the Finnish government and the authorities in general.

This violence in my mind is the sign of a very uncivilized country and society in its very basics.

Tis for Tis from the deeply thinking, wondering, pondering Riihele xx.

I will add the link to a site called Education Wife Assault‘ and it’s about Emotional Abuse among other things.