Children working in small-scale mines were often forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours in low-lying and unstable pits. In addition to cutting and drilling, their tasks also included transporting heavy bags of ore out of the unsecured tunnels. In addition, girls were subjected to sexual harassment and were urged to prostitute themselves.
For the 96-page report, HRW interviewed 200 workers in eleven mines, including 61 children. They are active in the regions of geita, shinyanga and mbeya. "Tanzanian boys and girls are lured into the small-scale mines with the hope of a better life, but then find themselves in a hopeless cycle of danger and despair," says HRW expert janine morna. Often it is orphans who are most in need.
The children risked not only injuries from collapsing shafts, but also long-term health consequences from constantly breathing in dust and toxic mercury and carrying the heaviest loads. "On paper, tanzania has strict laws that prohibit child labor. But the government has done far too little to enforce them," explained morna.