Children's rights

In many countries, children are forced to work in souvenir production, in factories, doing craftwork, diving for shells and pearls, or mining precious stones. Children are also often employed as souvenir sellers on local markets, beaches or on the streets as they are sometimes thought to be more effective sellers than adults.

To sell souvenirs, children often work long hours every day and do not have the opportunity to go to school. Children selling souvenirs have sometimes been trafficked and have to give their income to their traffickers. In some tourist destinations, there is also the risk of (trafficked) children being forced to beg. Being in constant contact with strangers, children selling souvenirs are particularly vulnerable to verbal, physical or sexual harassment and abuse.

In recent years, reports have revealed child labour in carpet production, gemstone mining, and factories producing souvenir garments and clothes. Children work under particularly harmful conditions and are sometimes forced to live apart from their families, being trafficked or sold to another place. They are deprived of their childhood and the possibility of going to school, and may be harmed in their physical and mental development.

Widespread child labour in the Indian carpet industry

Various investigations found very high numbers of child workers in India’s carpet factories in the Uttar Pradesh region, also known as the “carpet belt”. Working conditions in factories were found to be “nothing short of subhuman”. Factories and shacks were cramped, filthy, very hot and humid, filled with bad air, and contaminated with mould. Carpet workers were found to have numerous health ailments as a result of hazardous working conditions. The report linked below documents numerous cases of bonded labour, as well as human and child trafficking and slavery in the Indian carpet industry. Children are reportedly recruited by contractors under false promises to their parents of decent wages and the freedom to visit home at any time.

Eradicating child labour is difficult, but some employers in India are finding a way. And along the way to eliminating child labour, employers are also discovering that it makes good business sense as well.

Children selling souvenirs in Angkor Wat

The temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are well-known for children selling souvenirs in front of every temple. Children work every day and most of them do not go to school. UNICEF Cambodia estimates that 80,000 children in the country do not go to school, often out of poverty. UNICEF advices not to give money to children as this can make the situation even worse, and the more a child earns, the more likely it is that they will continue to be forced to work.

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Take action

Policy and process

  • Integrate clauses on children’s rights and responsible sourcing in contracts / Supplier Code of Conduct with souvenir suppliers (business partners).

Communication and reporting

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.