3 Challenges to Ending Child Labor
One of the central tenants of fair trade is the non-use of child labor. But we all know that greed makes one look the other way, especially when it concerns large corporations. In recent years, companies like Nike and Hershey have been put in the hot seat for their irresponsible use of child labor. With these big companies being publicly shamed, it is hard to believe that child labor still persists all around the world even after the fact. What is hindering the elimination of child labor?
The down low on child labor
The countries highest at risk for child labor are Myanmar, Somalia, North Korea, Sudan, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. Because child labor often occurs in remote or rural areas, it is difficult for authorities to catch. A major factor blocking governments from busting organizations from using child labor is that due to the illegal nature of it, there is often no record of children employees. Moreover, documents such as birth certificates are often forged or missing.
Because different countries have different labor standards, child labor can be easily covered up. For instance, many electronics factories in China rely on vocational school students, temporary workers, and even high school workers for surges in production. Students have complained that they are forced to put in very long hours in factories producing products with no relevance to their fields of study. There are even reports of factories paying school administrators bonuses for their participation in forcing students to work in this nature. While ‘student-workers’ are legal, abuse of them is not; this is where the problem lies.
One side of child labor that truly breaks our hearts at VavaVida is the risks of eliminating child labor without implementing safety nets for the children. Child labor is the product of poverty and lack of education; if the correct precautions are not taken to protect the children, simply shutting down sweat shops could force them into even worse working conditions, such as prostitution and panhandling. Companies that wish to eliminate their use of sweat shops must tackle the issue in full force. There are multiple reasons that child labor is difficult to stop, which is why it calls for a multifaceted action plan.
On the bright side of things, there are companies that are actively fighting involvement in these horrific acts. Those companies include familiar faces such as Hewlett-Packard, H&M Apparel and IKEA. While cheap prices are ideal, remember to think more globally when looking for a good deal. There are several organizations looking to increase awareness and stop child labor in it’s tracks. to learn more, head to the Child Labor Education Project or the Child Labor Coalition.
Is there a company you know who’s fighting the good fight to end child labor?
Tell us about it in the comment section…