From Socialist Voice, December 2006

Facts about our world

Who calls the shots at the World Bank?

Most countries are members of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But the voting rights of each country are based on the financial contribution it makes to these bodies; so invariably they are heavily dominated and controlled by the developed capitalist countries.
• The United States holds by far the greatest share of voting power: 17 per cent.
• The combined G8 countries have over 45 per cent.
• South American countries have 8 per cent.
• Fifty-one African countries between them have only 5.4 per cent.
• Ireland has 0.3 per cent of a vote, though as part of the EU bloc it has 31 per cent.
    And because Ireland’s foreign policy is now harmonised with the European Union, we carry a share of the responsibility for growing indebtedness and global poverty.

Life under capitalism: Hardest on children

In many societies, taking in children from other households to perform domestic work has long been seen as a form of surrogacy, adoption, or assisting a child from a poor family. Under today’s conditions such practices have become commercialised: children have been turned into commodities, to be bought and sold. In 2004 it is estimated that there were approximately 250,000 such children in Haïti, 200,000 in Kenya, and 100,000 in Sri Lanka.
    Girls make up a majority of those carrying out such work; domestic work is normally consigned to female workers and is the largest employment category in the world of girls under sixteen. This is a growing area of unregulated employment and exploitation, virtually treating children as slaves.
    Child domestic workers report high levels of violence. In the Philippines and Peru almost all child workers report that they have suffered maltreatment. In Fiji, eight out of ten domestic workers reported that their employers sexually abused them. Research in El Salvador found that two-thirds of girls in domestic service reported being beaten, insulted, denied food, fined for damages, or forced to remain out of doors.
    An even more blatant example of violence against children is sexual exploitation in child and adolescent pornography and “sex shops.” Though figures for children entering prostitution are only broad estimates, about a million are thought to enter sexual exploitation every year. In south and east Asia about a third of those involved in sexual exploitation are thought to be under eighteen.
    Violence is central to sexual exploitation, often compounded by exposure to additional physical or psychological violence. According to a study in Viet Nam by the International Labour Organisation and the International Programme on the Elimination of Children Labour, 12 per cent of children in prostitution said they were subject to torture or were beaten by customers or employers, and also that they underwent repeated abortions, even having an abortion in the morning and receiving a customer in the afternoon. In Mongolia 33 per cent of girls in prostitution stated that they had been raped.
    The world’s 5.7 million children in forced and bonded labour, including a significant proportion of victims of trafficking, are subject to constant violence. The problems associated with bonded labour survives elsewhere, much of it concentrated in southern Asia.
    Another risk group is children involved in trading drugs. They are often on the receiving end of violent behaviour and exposed to risks of substance abuse and harm.
    Children in unsafe working environments are also at risk. In 2004 more than 60 per cent of the world’s 218 million working children were considered to be engaged in “hazardous” work. This includes glass factories, mining, and plantation agriculture, where health and safety regulations are often lax or non-existent.

Modern colonialism

Recent data from the United Nations as well as the World Bank shows that in 1930 the economic gap between Europe and Africa was 30:1. By 2005 this gap had grown to reach 50:1. That is why the World Federation of Trade Unions speaks about “modern colonialism.”
    Colonialism is not finished. Today, using new methods, imperialist powers and monopoly corporations continue to exploit all the peoples of Africa. Modern colonialism, with satellite states and protectorates, and the European Union with its “economic partnership agreements,” is still reinforcing its long-term neo-colonialist domination of majority-world countries, most of which were former colonies.

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