Imagine having a child that every morning you send off not to a school, but to a factory. They will work in a large room that is extremely hot, loud, crowded, and dangerous. Your kid can earn 33 cents an hour making products your family will never be able to afford, for kids you’ll never meet, in a country you’ll never see. This is how the products you and I purchase, wear, and enjoy are often made.
Brands like H&M, Disney, and Nike all employ children to manufacture products intended to be sold to other children and with unadulterated impunity. I’d go so far as to say there are people working for these companies, who not only tolerate it but enjoy the fact that they can maximize their profits by putting the work on innocent children. To them, it’s okay, because there is no law against it in their country. The exploitation of children for capitalistic gain is certainly nothing new, but like most deplorable, immoral business practices, it has simply slunk back into the shadows far from the consumers’ eyes. Unfortunately, this strategy seems to have worked. A majority of the U.S. population is either ignorant to the reality of child labor, or (even worse) they’re completely fine with it.
I understand that it is a hard pill to swallow, but we all need to assume responsibility for the global vices we perpetuate. We need to recognize the systems in places that encourage them.
The thing I personally take issue with is the fact that in a store there is nothing letting you know the shirt you think looks cute was made by kids. Many will never know if it was or was not, and therein lies the most insidious aspect of the whole situation. Companies that employ children know it’s seen as wrong and decide to hide it because it may affect sales. They are so motivated by capitalistic gain that they will lie to an entire country and hide it because they don’t want you to think twice about buying a shirt with a cartoon character on it. Rather than give you more information on your products, you’re expected to look, judge, buy, and then repeat, even if buying violates your morality. This goes beyond ignorance, beyond all semblance of morality, ethics or compassion.
And still, it gets worse. The children working in these factories are in an extreme amount of danger, working for little and with nearly nonexistent health benefits and few safety precautions. In many cases, families are so poor or uneducated they have no other option other than sending a child to work. This becomes their only way of supplementing an income or lack thereof. Leaving these children no other choice but to go into factories and work, at this point, ceases to be voluntary employment and becomes wage slavery.
Despite the fact that child labor has decreased in recent years, the numbers are still far too much for us to ignore the issue. Many still toil away for not enough, and the best way to combat this problem is to educate yourself. Please be aware of the issue and do not engage with companies that are involved with this system. If you’d like to know more about child labor and what you can do as a consumer go to www.stopchildlabour.org/Stop-Childlabour.