The EU’s Ambiguous Position on Migrant Underage Workers
Introduction. Independent child migration for purposes of work has received considerable attention over recent years (Camacho 1999; Iversen 2002; Punch 2002; Whitehead/ Hashim/Iversen 2007; Yaqub 2009). This body of literature mainly concentrates on internal and international child migration taking place outside the European context. These studies demonstrate that young people under 18 years of age leave their families and communities for a number of reasons. This frequently encompasses work, and often involves a considerable degree of strategic decision-making on the part of parents, children or both (Camacho 1999; Iversen 2002; Punch 2002; Whitehead/Hashim/ Iversen 2007). Some argue, therefore, that these migratory dynamics cannot be reduced to human trafficking despite exploitation and abuse taking place (Bastia 2005; Whitehead/Hashim 2005; Huijsmans 2008). Yet, the policy space to address the phenomenon of minors migrating for work autonomously as anything other than human trafficking has been described as “very narrow” (Whitehead/Hashim 2005: 4). This, despite indications that policies stemming from the human trafficking discourses amount to anything but making migration safer for minors (Busza/ Castle/Diarra 2004) and do not discourage migrant minors from involvement in work (Dottridge 2006: 11).