Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaChild Labor Practices
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content
Child Labor Practices Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Preethi Nath, United States Feb 22, 2002
Human Rights , Labour Rights   Opinions


The question is should we or should we not buy products made by children? Most people do not understand the tremendous magnitude and complexity of child labor and look at it through rose-tinted glasses. His or her perception is that by boycotting sweatshop practices, employers will pay their workers more and in turn children won't have to work any longer. Hence, ideally, most people believe that by not buying products made by children, they are significantly alleviating the situation, when in reality they are only further exacerbating it. For instance, thousands of children in developing nations have been hurt by people boycotting goods made by children and have lost their jobs over night. As a result, they have no alternative and are put into even more difficult circumstances because of this action.

Thirteen year old child worker, Dibou Faye agrees with this notion. Here she talks to UNICEF; firmly defending views on how children should have the right to work the equivalent hours of an adult.

Q: You have put across the point of view that children want to be able to work and believe that this is an important choice. Is that correct?

A: It is my choice, because of the poverty. Had my parents been rich, I would not have worked. It is to prepare myself for the future so that I can become a good head of the family.

Q: Do you think that the policies at the conference [Conference on child labor in Oslo] are addressing your needs as a child worker?

A: The discussions where they talk about child labor are important to me because that is not just ideas, many of the discussions are adult discussions that really do not touch upon my reality, which is poverty and that work is necessary. If my parents were rich, I would have gone to school.

Q: So the calls for the immediate end to child labor under the age of fourteen is something that you cannot endorse?

A: I don't think that it is possible to eliminate child work in Senegal, there are too many poor families who depend on it. I work as a maid, and my brother who is only seven has to take care of his younger brothers and sisters and give bottles, etc.

Q: What are your dreams for the future?

A: That there would be no poverty and that I could learn a trade to earn money for my family.

In much the same way, when asked a similar question on the eradication of child labor, Cicero Jose, offered his personal convictions on the issue of child labor, from the perspective of a parent of a child worker. He says that with his son working, "I think that now it is better. Because, I couldn't give them [his family] what they wanted and now he has R$50-it is not mine-it is his and when the wife takes the money, it isn't me who gets the money, it is his mother and she goes out to buy shoes, watch, tooth brush. I couldn't do it before and he helped, as I couldn't give him these things. And now I can do this for him, because it is not my money, it is his. Before, he was suffering a lot as I couldn't give him the things he wanted. It is better to be at school learning things; because I am this way nowadays because I didn't learn anything. My son can have a better life; he can go out and look for something better. He can grow up and I will be still cutting sugar cane. I feel sorry to take the boy to cut sugar cane, the knife can cut your hand. But there is nothing we can do except say to my son, let's live life the way God wants us to. We couldn't do anything because we needed his help, he cuts, he ties the sugar cane together and helps us. He could not stay home doing nothing because we couldn't afford it."

Child labor permeates every segment of third world societies and is an incessant part of the social milieu arising out of abject poverty and lack of opportunity. That is not to say that one shoud accept the devastating reality of child labor but find other alternatives to fight to end the cataclysms caused by the oppression of a child's fundamental rights. The Free The Children organization and the United Nations have adopted long term strategies that intend to help assuage the issues of poverty, illiteracy and employment; thus implementing governmental issues like the right to work, right to education and the fixation of the international minimum wage.



You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
Preethi Nath

This user has not written anything in his panorama profile yet.

The Money vs The Pain
Maggie | Feb 26th, 2002
It is sad that we all live in such a world where everything revolves around a monetary value. It is a world where children who deserve a better life have to choose between a childhood and survival. But I guess the question comes down to whether we should stop child labour in third world countries and let their families deals with the financial problems or let this abomination continue for the sake of simply being able to put food on the table.

Worse Alternatives
. | Mar 26th, 2002
In some places where child labor has been outlawed, former child factory workers have become prostitutes. "Solving" the problem in some instances makes it worse. To end child labor in Third World countries, advocated must take a long-term view, and stay involved in those countries to offer workable, better alternatives that allow poor families a way to provide for themselves.

You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.