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Child labour has been a massive issue that has greatly interfered with global development and well-being. Often in Australia we take things for granted. We have the ability to go to school and are offered higher education. We live in comfortable homes. We have the opportunity to choose our future. Yet millions of children are unable to go to school because they’re at work, work that they do not want to be at. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and will generate ideas like no other, so why do we use child labour to make income for today’s businesses? Why are corporate businesses stripping children in third world countries from the right to a normal childhood? Why are small children being kept away from their right to education? Many of the businessmen and industrialists are hiring children at an extremely low cost in some sort of job. They do so to gain a profit by gaining efficient work at a low labour cost. Nepal still accounts for 3.6 million children between the ages of 5-17 in child labour, according to the International Labour Organization.
Who is making your clothes? We all love shopping, spending most of your pocket money on the new high street labels. However, while the top you bought last weekend might look great on, if you knew who made it, would you be as pleased as before? Look at yourselves. What are you wearing? Now, though you might think you look quite trendy, you are a slave labourer.
You may need to empty your dishwasher, clean your house, or wash your parents’ car for a bit of money. But imagine working 12 hours a day – no break – in poor conditions, a dusty, filthy factory for example, just to put food on the table. That’s the reality for many young people at the start of a chain that ends with your clothes hitting the high street.
We are used to a very sheltered life where going to school is what we are used to. All of your friends go to school and it is likely that your parents did as well. It’s what’s required in Australia and is the norm until you are 18 legally. Yet children in poorer countries like Nepal begin work as young as 5 years old. These children work in factories for a mere 62 cents an hour. Why? The answer to this question is brutal but true. They are inexpensive and easy to manipulate. They take whatever kind of jobs they may find because they are hungry and desperate.
Around 250 million children work in developing countries such as India, Nepal and parts of Africa, Latin America and Europe, according to the international labour organisation. One in three African children work part-time or full-time. Around 80% of children’s jobs are considered to be unpaid. The majority of the children who work is a result of poverty.
These children are deprived of much needed money and exploited, being forced to perform dangerous less well-paid work including slavery, becoming servants in households, rugmakers and street traders. No parent wants their child to work in terrible conditions. It is risky. It is exploitative. And that is dangerous. But there’s no option for them. They will die of hunger without this job. They would not be able to bring in income for their family. They will not be able to improve their opportunities for education or health. This money is their lifeline.
K-mart, Target, and Cotton-On, are some of the biggest culprits in Australia that exploit young underfed and malnourished children to manufacture clothing at an extremely low cost.
We as a fortunate society need to face the reality and make positive steps in improving the lives of many young people who should have the same opportunities as we do.
So, when you are asked to empty the dishwasher, clean your car or simply make you bed. Don’t make excuses. Just do it. There are children half of your age who sit in boiling factories for houses only to receive a slice of bread.
You can be the change and act upon this by keeping clear of all these brands! Be the change you want to see in the world.
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