Child Labor and Sweatshops “We must ensure that while eliminating child labor in the export industry, we are also eliminating their labor from the informal sector, which is more invisible to public scrutiny- and thus leaves the children more open to abuse and exploitation. ” (“Carol Bellamy”). The topic of child labor is a global phenomenon that has millions of people heartbroken, held captive, and pleased with the work it has fulfilled. It has been around for countless years and is still occurring today. Usually, no awareness is brought to child labor. Some people just see it as a way of living.
Although there are many laws against child labor, all that is physically done are three or four sentence articles in the newspaper about how it’s banned. Owners of sweatshops and billion dollar companies do not see the suffering they are putting infant workers through. Child labor negatively impacts individuals, society, and the economy due to the large productivity and cheap labor. Although child labor does not have a select year when it began, some might say it began at the dawn of men. Children have been worked since the beginning of time and may never end in some countries due to rulers, money issues, and beliefs.
In the early 1800’s, machines were starting to replace hand labor for making most manufactured items. Everywhere from Asia to North America, factories began to increase. Children began operating the power-driven machines. Mostly because children were easier and cheaper to hire than adults. Growing into the mid-1800’s, child labor became a major social issue. Children have always worked. But factories needed them more than before. Working in a factory is no walk in the park, especially for a child. A child with a factory job could easily work 12 to 18 hours a day. They could work seven days a week just to earn a dollar (“Herumin 38”).
Children as early as seven years old would be forced to tend machines in spinning mills or carry heavy loads all day. The working children had no time to play or receive and education (“Herumin 41”). Under all the harsh conditions in the factories, children often became ill. Illnesses that occurred during these time periods because of child labor included: HIV/AIDS, starvation, small pox, anemia, the flu, a cold that escalated, and thousands of other reasons. Hence, significant populations of children were dying. Most of the children who were involved in child labor came from poor families.
By 1810, about 200,000,000 school age children were working 50-70 hours a week. Sometimes, parents could not afford to keep up will all the expenses children came with, so, they turned them over to a factory owner or different family. These families had no mercy; they could have 11 year old boys working for 60 hours for dollars a day. Under these circumstances, children were ordered under strict rules and had to obey all the orders given to them. Finally, people saw the cruelty that was occurring. Petitions began, companies shut down, and people started adopting the children that were going through that pain. The English writer Charles Dickens helped publicize the evils of child labor with his novel Oliver Twist. Britain was first to pass laws regulating child labor” (“History of Child Labor”). Therefore, Britain recognized the cruelty. Overtime a series of laws shortened working hours, improved the conditions, and raised the age children could work (“History of Child Labor”). People started to get a sense of mind and child labor began to dim down in Europe. In the United States it took many years to outlaw child labor. By 1899, a total of 28 states started ruling against child labor. American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddlers” (“Child Labor in U. S History”). Organizations such as the National Consumers League and the National Child Labor Committee worked to end child labor. They started to provide free education options around the country. “The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and other workingmen resolve that ‘Children should not be allowed to labor in the factories from morning till night, without any time for healthy recreation and mental culture,’ for it ‘endangers their . . well-being and health’ (“Child Labor in U. S History). Most people know about child labor, although no one will ever know the pain and suffering better than the victims of child labor. The interviews child laborers talk in can crush hearts. Children in our very own country go through that every day. “A nine year old girl toils under the hot sun making bricks from morning until night, seven days a week. Trafficked with her family from Bihar… India. She lives in terrible conditions” (“Sweatshops and Child Labor”). These heartbreak and heinous acts happen to children every day.
Nevertheless, today these children are more likely than not brought to awareness. Nike has been accused of child labor and this has been an ongoing deal for many years. One accusation about Nike is their soccer balls, which are made in Pakistan by child laborers. While Pakistan has laws against child labor and slavery, the Pakistani government has done nothing about this (“Child labor and sweatshops 17”). Another accusation about Nike is, “Nike founder Philip H. Knight pays child workers in Indonesia about $2. 20 a day while his own stock in Nike is worth 4. 5 billion dollars” (“Child Labor and Sweatshops 17”).
Under these circumstances, Nike has been questioned by the public and judged. Walt Disney’s company has also been accused of supporting child labor overseas. Their workers are in vile conditions, diminishing their basic rights, and exploiting their innocence. As one of the most least responsive companies, Disney takes the lead. “Disney, which makes children clothes. The billion dollar companies depend on workers in Haiti who make 28 cents an hour” (“Child Labor and Sweatshops 18”). While providing cheap labor, the children are defenseless against the torture they endure.
Disney workers in Haiti stitch Aladdin t-shirts. In Vietnam, girls work for 17 cents, seven days a week making toys. In china, young boys and girls make Disney story books. Meanwhile, the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, makes $102,000 per hour. Since this is true Walt Disney’s company has been looked at in a different sort of light by millions. Many organizations today take a stand against child labor. “The International Initiative on Exploitative Child Labor (IIECL), also commonly known as the International Initiative to End Child Labor, is a US-based, not-for-profit [US IRS approved 501 (c) (3)] organization, founded n 1998 and incorporated in 1999, that conducts and/or provides education, training, technical assistance, capacity building, research, social accountability auditing, resources, program planning and design, and monitoring and evaluation services to public and private sector, non-governmental organizations, and international research and development institutions that seek to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the United States and around the world” (“About IIECL”). Their initiative is to eliminate the vilest forms of child labor all around the world and they are working on that today.
An impact to stop child labor would be “Rugmark”. Society is recommending “Rugmark” which is a company that makes hand woven carpets. Rugmark guarantees the use of child labor free rugs. Its fight against child labor has already created a worldwide point; we can have a carpet company, or any company, and not slave at children all day to create these magnificent carpets. Another current organization working to abolish child labor is the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO estimates that about 215 million children around the world toil in child labor today.
Of these, more than half work in hazardous conditions. (“Shining a Light… ”). More than 60 percent of this child labor is forced. People across the globe understand that forcing child labor is against human rights. Most agree children should not be in positions where their stability is at risk. To stop this, the ILO goes to countries and helps the children in need. “Reporting is only one of the vital tools we use to protect workers worldwide. Since 1995, the Department of Labor has funded more than 250 projects in over 90 countries, which have benefited almost 1. million children worldwide. These efforts remove children from exploitative labor and provide them with education and other services” (“Shining a Light… ”) Today, every state in America and the federal government has laws against child labor. These laws have cured millions of hopeless children lives. We are one of the many few countries who have this law and take action for it. Nearly sixty percent of Ethiopian children are put to work, earning about a dollar a month. In Pakistan, children continue to be used as slaves. Most of the labor offences occur in the nation’s Punjab province, which is a global supplier of stitched rugs, musical instruments and sports equipment” (“Child Labor is Making…”) Thus, this proves many countries today do not recognize child labor as severely as they do in the United States. Lastly, the worst country in the world where child labor is one hundred percent present is Myanmar (Burma). Forty percent of the country’s children never enroll in school. The Burmese army recruits start at age twelve.
Children who don’t join the army are forced into child labor. All these heinous acts are what organizations like the ILO are trying to abolish, but the countries government, is letting this happen. Since this is true and it has been going about for hundreds of years, the chances are slim to none that the government in Myanmar will change. Child labor until recently has not been recognized as a global issue. Developing countries continued, as they had for centuries, not giving a care who or how imported goods were made.
The practice of child labor left children neglected, abused, and starved. The children’s bosses would not care if they did not eat for hours for days. When children as young as five years old are abducted and thrown into this slavery, they usually do not escape the poverty among them. This is why socially, the ILO and other organizations realized this truth and are working to help children every day. Economically, companies such as Rugmark guarantee a hand woven rug that is one hundred percent not made from children.
The victims themselves can only be brought out of the darkness of child labor and share their stories so one day this nation will be child labor free. Works Cited Child Labor Facts. N. p. , n. d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013. <http://www. compassion. com/child-advocacy/find-your-voice/quick-facts/child-labor-quick-facts. htm>. Child Labor in US History. N. p. , n. d. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://www. continuetolearn. uiowa. edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/us_history. html>. Child Labor Is Making a Disturbing Resurgence around the World. Luke McKenna, 6 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 Jan. 2013.
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