Child Labour in Sweatshops

Your dress is pretty… who made it?

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Income in US dollars

For low paid sweatshop worker, so far this year

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TheWorldCounts, 07 July, 2014

Your dress is pretty… who made it?

In recent news, a Welsh woman was looking at the label of a new dress for washing instructions. To her surprise, a message was on the label which said… “Forced to work exhausting hours.” This disturbing message is a fact that’s known all over the world. But when you hear the message directly from the worker, a cry for help, it takes on a different meaning. Just who are making the clothes that we wear? Are they as happy to make it as we are to wear it?

You’d be surprised at the mixed reaction to this news. Some say it’s a setup or a hoax because the grammar was too perfect for someone who worked in a factory. Some were horrified and was worried that the workers might be punished.

But however the message got there, it doesn’t divert from the truth. Child labour in sweatshops exist to this day and there are millions of workers who are grossly underpaid, working in less than acceptable conditions – and majority of them are children.

More:  Facts About Child Slavery

What are Sweatshops?

A sweatshop is defined by the Department of Labor as a factory which violates 2 or more labor laws. It has 3 characteristics – low pay, long brutal hours and unhealthy working conditions. An adult who has no other option but to work in a sweatshop is in a pitiful situation indeed, but more so when a child is sold or forced to work in such an environment.

Although the number of children in child labor has declined in recent years, 1 in 6 children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old are still in some form of child labor in developing countries.

Sweatshops like employing children since they seldom complain about the working conditions and they are given a smaller wage. Rugs and Carpet manufacturers prefer children because of their small and fast hands. Child slavery is rampant in the Cocoa industry.

More: Child Labor Facts and Statistics

Some of the largest clothing brands linked to sweatshops are Liz Claiborne, Walmart, Nike, Hanes, Benetton, Adidas and Gap.

Exploiting Poverty

The continuous presence of sweatshops, especially in the garment industry is due to the lack of Corporate Social Responsibility on the part of global corporations. Sweatshops are commonplace. Corporations move their factories overseas where the labor is cheaper so they can lower their operation’s cost. The employment opportunity may seem like a good thing for the people, until they find that their wages are not even enough to pay for their daily expenses.

Are sweatshops a necessary evil since people need jobs to feed their family? If you hire someone to do a job, shouldn’t they be compensated? A job should be able to improve the lives of the workers and lift them out of poverty.

Products made in Sweatshops

The biggest industries which utilize sweatshops for manufacturing are:

  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Rugs / Carpets
  • Chocolate / Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Bananas
  • Toys

Defenders of sweatshops reason out that “Something is Better than Nothing”

Is this the truth? Is this what our society has become? Our needs and demands are great but is it justifiable to enslave people so we can get what we want?

How can we help change this thinking? How can we force corporations to give more priorities to their workers?

We don’t believe that something is better than nothing. We all need to be treated humanely even when our need is great. Fortunately, many companies are waking up and mending their ways.

Choose Fair Trade Products and buy from Ethical Companies. Practice your buying power and DO NOT buy products that are known to come from sweatshops.

Go to FirmHugger and you will see green products. Let’s support those who are trying to end slavery of all kinds.  If you know an ethical company that’s not listed, please add it to the site.

Read more stories on the latest global happenings at The World Counts: Stories.

References

  1. Blue & Green Tomorrow: Shopper finds cry for help from exploited worker in Primark dress
  2. International Labor Rights Forum:  Sweatfree Communities
  3. Daily Mail: Exposed
  4. Do Something:   Background on Sweatshops

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