Often as consumers, we’re looking for ways to help save that extra money. As our thirst for cheaper goods increases, producers are after cheaper production costs. But do we realize that someone else has to pay the price for that? No.
The high demand for cheaper goods from consumers compels companies in countries like the USA, Canada and the UK to pass on their contracts to small factories in countries like India, Bangladesh, Egypt, China and Thailand where child labour is widespread. While there are minimum wage rates for adults, producers enforce child labour because it’s free. Production costs in these countries are very cheap meaning higher profits for the companies. Children are trafficked from small villages and towns with the false promises of a great job and a lot of money. Parents get tempted by the money offered and send their children to work, given the tough social and economic circumstances of the families. They have no substitute but to succumb to their destiny.
Children also make ideal employees; they are easy to tackle, more flexible, less troublesome, less aware of their rights. Although they aren’t skilled but learn in a short period. Employers are assured that those children and their parents will not report the matter to the authorities because of the apparent lack of awareness about their rights and fear of losing the little money they make.
The companies can have ethical guidelines but they can’t assure them being adhered to. Companies need to start going the extra mile to ensure their products are child labour free. International Labour Organization (ILO) has defined checkpoints for companies to eliminate child labour which should be strictly followed.
As consumers, our primary goal should be to educate people around us and raise awareness about child labour. We need to urge government leaders to strengthen child labour laws, to increase educational opportunities for children and sustainable employment opportunities for adults. We should support NGOs and organizations which offer immediate aid to the victims of child labour. Promote and shop at fair- trade brands that support humane, sustainable practices which don’t include child labour.
Child labour will not solve overnight, it’s a long battle to fight. We need to be persistent and profoundly attached in our resolution to combat this social evil.