Child Labor in Developing Countries
Such is the case of well-known and taboo subject of child labor in countries that have seemingly been forgotten by the watchful eye of the media. While mainstream exploitation of child workers has been prohibited by the UN with strict regulations, many still find a way to abuse the system and find loopholes to suit their agendas. What is the nature of child labor in today’s developing countries and how does it reflect on the image we create of a global mind-set where everyone has a democratic right to express their opinion?
An issue of global magnitude
It’s hard to imagine someone who would expose their child to what essentially boils down to slave labor in developing countries where children are taken advantage of to extremes. Some countries feature child workers who work in more or less hazardous environments and work for mere $1 a day and come out satisfied with it. How did we reach the point where the 21st century made us grow farther apart as a species instead of bringing us closer together?
It’s true that developing countries across Africa, Eastern Europe and South America do suffer from low GDP and the people living in these conditions simply don’t have a choice if they want to survive. While globalization and capitalism manages to make life somewhat tolerable in the US and across EU and Asia, some countries have severed problems with child labor that supersede their contemporaries.
Following (and ignoring) regulations
The Child Labor Act of 1986 strictly outlines where children can and cannot work if the need arises for something that severe in a country’s economy. The shocking fact is that children of 5-6 years of age work involuntarily across India and similarly poor countries without a clue as to what they are actually doing.
The sheer audacity of the so-called “employers” who would do such a thing in the first place questions the very humanity of the world we live in. Such scenarios were often debated in sci-fi and fantasy works of famous authors, professionally written so as to paint a picture of a world that should be avoided at all costs.
Global conglomerates and cheap labor
The biggest concern when talking about child labor is the fact that huge international companies use the opportunity to exploit young generations any chance they get. Companies with international fame and widely-popular products that people use across the world without blinking an eye use children to manufacture said products at significantly smaller costs.
In doing so, these companies wash their hands of any guilt or ramifications simply because they outsourced the work to local sweatshops and factories with very poor working conditions and even worse compensations for the trouble. In order to make any sort of impact on a global scale, we need to think bigger and not just focus on dismantling local child labor rings in developing countries.
For every factory that gets shut down, dozens or hundreds of families will lose the hope of feeding themselves and surviving to see the next day. The future of child labor and whether or not it will continue to be exploited rests entirely on the hands of consumers who continue in their support of these companies by buying their products and spreading seemingly positive word of mouth about them.
It’s easy to see these facts as true but remain neutral about whether or not a person should act upon child labor and do something to stop it. However, imagining our own children with ripped clothes and muddy hands, working for less than a $1 a day paints a pretty different picture of the situation.
A future uncertain
While slavery has officially been eradicated in the 19th century, given the state of developing countries across the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people fall on desperate measures to survive. The children are sometimes very aware of what is going on but simply want to make their families happy in bringing a small contribution to the table.
How do we proceed with eradicating this decadent practice if the very people who are being exploited don’t want anything to change? Change is hard and everyone is afraid of the unknown. The only constant in this struggle is the fact that children should have a childhood to look forward to without slave labor weighing down their personal and physical development.