Child labor and unfree labor: Evidence from the palm oil sector in Sabah (East Malaysia)

Research shows that this study on child labor in oil palm production in Sabah, East Malaysia, contributes to the ongoing debate on unfree labor. It emphasizes the importance of measuring child labor incidence on an individual basis and advancing discourse on acceptable and unacceptable practices. The study also amplifies children’s voices, shedding light on their perceptions and realities in oil palm production. Furthermore, it highlights the recurrence of unfree labor relations due to employment transitions among working children in the agricultural and fishing sectors. The presence of unfree and unacceptable labor conditions suggests strong indicators of child labor, cautioning against a blanket use of the term that may hinder effective interventions and business actions.

Image courtesy of interviewee

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