INSIGHTS

COCA Continues its streak in public interest litigation to uphold the law

Clifford Odhiambo & Company Advocates has moved to court to challenge the constitutionality of laws under the Children’s Act and Employment Act permitting children to be gainfully employed.

Introduction

Background

Our firm, through its Managing Partner Mr. Clifford Odhiambo, has moved to court to challenge the constitutionality of laws under the Children’s Act and Employment Act that permit children to be gainfully employed.

The firm asserts that in addition to being unconstitutional, these laws allow vulnerable and impressionable youth to be exploited at the expense of their academic development. Mr. Odhiambo’s petition also points out how these laws go as far as effectively legalizing employing children to work in the night, which not only exposes them night life vices, but also deprives them of much needed sleep which every human being requires in their formative years for healthy growth.

Our petition also highlights the plight of impressionable youth who are exploited by unscrupulous employers by virtue of their youthful naivety and lack of experience which denies them the bargaining power to push for reasonable pay and working conditions. This is further exacerbated by their  inability to join trade unions, which renders them helpless against punitive and exploitative employers.

Despite numerous efforts by both governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, girls remain the largest demographic of learners confronted by the most barriers to education. In addition to poverty and conflict which they share with their male counterparts, they are further plagued by teenage pregnancy, sexual and gender based violence, and forced marriages.

About Labour

Even in categories like poverty where both genders are affected, girls are more disproportionately impacted because, in addition to paid labour, they are usually the sole undertakers of unpaid labour within Kenyan households, being responsible for activities like child-rearing, household cleaning, and cooking. These are duties which they perform alongside paid work.

If the constitutional petition is successful, the yoke of labour burdening girls of school-going age will be lightened as unscrupulous employers will be prevented from hiring them for wage labour. This will in turn accord them more time to devote to their personal and academic growth.

At the least, the questions raised by the petition will have elicited long overdue discussions about how employment of minors hampers their education and the measures that we can take as a nation to safeguard the future of our children.

Key Insights at a Glance

The petition seeks the repeal of laws permitting the employment of children contrary to the constitution.
Children are exploited in the workforce due to their lack of bargaining power and young age which prevents them from bargaining for better working conditions.
The constitution envisions that minors ought to be earning knowledge in school and not living wages at work.

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