Child vendors facing violence and harassment: survey

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 07 June 2022, 11:41PM

A survey targeting 5–15 years old child street vendors in Samoa has found they continue to experience violence, harassment and name-calling while plying their trade.

The preliminary findings of the survey conducted by a team from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) were revealed at the launching of the survey’s report last Friday. 

The report is titled "Summary of Preliminary Findings from the Rapid Assessment Survey of Child Vendors in Samoa” and was funded by UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and is an initiative of the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour.

ILO National Coordinator, Laufiso Tomasi Peni said that the survey was done by an N.U.S team led by Associate Professor Tuiloma Susana Tauaa and Dr. Mercy Maliko.

It covered 135 children who were all child vendors and their parents, who were also engaged for the purpose of learning about the realities of their children's circumstances. 

The composition of the survey’s respondents were 51 girls and 84 boys with the survey report’s authors emphasising in a statement that they “sought to capture both the real and perceived nuances in the lives of child vendors in Samoa that are informed by the data collected." 

The report’s authors also said in a statement that the children and their parents were the subjects of the survey in order to get clarification on the plight of child vendors in Samoa.

"To elucidate on the plight of child vendors, it is important to seek and capture ordinary perspectives and practices of both children and adults (parents) engaged in street vending activities," the statement read.

Associate Professor Tuiloma Susana Taua’a, when presenting the findings of the report last Friday, said their objective was to generate data that would help formulate policy interventions to fight child labour.

"The purpose of the Rapid Assessment Survey was to generate up to date data to develop effective interventions to combat child labor in the form of child vendors," she said.

"Specific objectives of the rapid assessment were to survey the street vendors in Apia and Salelologa township and select areas outside the urban areas.”

According to the academic, the survey was also to find out the trend in the number of children engaged in vending on the streets since the last survey was conducted in 2015.

Another objective was to explore the characteristics of the child vendors, reasons for their engagement in street vending activities, pathways that led children to selling products on the streets and the socioeconomic situation of the families of child vendors. 

And lastly to find out the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the children and their families.

Many of the children surveyed revealed facing violence and harassment according to the Associate Professor. 

Some of the problems recorded included fighting with other street vendors, getting harmed due to fighting between schools, reprimands by adults, fearful of getting hit by cars on busy roads, getting bitten by the neighbour’s dogs and being threatened by people (for money). The children also pointed out that they were made fun of by students at school and they felt embarrassed by the work they do. 

They were also insulted by people and bullied by youths older than them while others got robbed and were sexually harassed. Some reported that the work they did was strenuous and their parents would beat them, if they did not sell everything they were sent out to sell. 

The Associate Professor also pointed out the ratio of more boys being vendors than girls and concluded that their ability to survive and protect themselves on the street could be a major factor. 

"The boys are stronger than the girls so that might be a factor. There is also the question of safety in which boys can protect themselves as compared to girls," she said.

"The child vendors increasing in the urban areas is much like the sinking of the Titanic. If you think about it, there was a rush to the top of the ship as it was sinking and in this case, the urban areas. 

“But eventually the ship sank and that is the probable fate of the child vendors.”

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 07 June 2022, 11:41PM
Samoa Observer

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