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Overview Child Laborers

by Andrew Fallone
May 2005

In the year 2003, there were 246 million child laborers in the world and this number is continuing to grow (Child Labour: The 1). Child slave labor is evident in many different countries from all across the world. Many different industries participate in using cheap child slave labor in third world countries to make larger profits. A few examples of the jobs children are forced to work on farms, in homes, in mines, as prostitutes, as street vendors, and in factories (Child Labour: The 2). Some of these factories or sweatshops they are forced to work in produce shoes, clothing, and toys. There are many infamous companies that are known for exploiting children and creating sweatshops in third world countries. Wal-Mart and Nike are some of the most notorious companies that exploit poor people third world countries. Child slave labor is becoming a more significant problem in the modern world. Approximately 22 thousand children die every year caused by labor related disasters (Child Labour: The 1). Child slave labor is found in many third world countries, for example China, Nepal, and India.

Wal-Mart is blamed for taking advantage of countless poverty stricken people in 48 countries all over the world (Wal-Mart 1). Wal-Mart is known for forcing overtime, locking bathrooms, providing insufficient wages, requiring pregnancy tests, denying access to health care, and firing and blacklisting workers for trying to defend their rights (Wal-Mart 2). In order for Wal-Mart to maintain such low product prices, they must find extremely cheap resources and use incredibly cheap slave labor. Although Wal-Mart has established many sweatshops in various countries, China is where the largest amount of these sweatshops is located. Wal-Mart continuously states that it doesn't support child labor; however Wal-Mart will not disclose its Chinese contractors and will not allows inspections of these contractor's sweatshops (Wal-Mart 2). In China there are no laws that inhibit the use of slave labor. The Chinese government doesn't permit human rights, religious groups, women groups, or independent unions, which allows Wal-Mart to take excessive advantage of the situation.

Nike is another large corporation that financially and morally exploits children and adults in third world countries. This company uses slave labor to greatly increase their profits by paying these people barely anything for their labor. Workers at a sweatshop located in Hermosa in El Salvador operated by Nike, make less than two tenths to four tenths of one percent of the actual retail cost in the United States of article of clothing or shoe. For example a worker will only earn 29 cents for every 140 dollar Nike Shirt and only 30 cents for every Nike pair of shorts that they sew together (Hermosa 2). Children workers will earn even less than the adults that work in the sweatshops. In addition to the insignificant salary, the workers are forced to work seven days a week with exceptionally long hours, up to 19 and a half hours each day (Hermosa 1). They also have to deal with water with bacteria levels of over 429 times larger than that of international normal levels (Hermosa 1). Unions, a code of conduct, and health care are nonexistent in the Nike sweatshops. The sweatshop is under surveillance with security cameras for the entire day. Women in the factory are required to meet extremely high production quotas, such sewing up to 2000 different sleeves for Nike shirts (Hermosa 1). Other companies that manage their sweatshops similarly to Nike's are Adidas and Puma.

Bangladesh one of the most abundant places where cheap slave labor can be found by larger companies with sweatshops. This area is also where sweatshops are in worst condition. In these sweatshop children early a lower salary than an adult does, which is only about 6 cents an hour (Lives 1). After a fire in clothing sweatshop called Chowdhury, ten children were found dead (Lives 1). There have also been many other fires in sweatshops that are similar to this incident, which shows that sweatshops and child slave labor is an issue that needs to be dealt with.

Another area where child slave labor is a large problem is on cocoa farms. Slave traders and traffickers take children from other countries and sell them to countries such as Cote d'Ivoire. The most common country where children are stolen from is From Mali. The children are often times tricked into cooperating with the slave traders because they are already in an awful position and are deceived into believing that they will be better off (Chanthavong 2). These children, which are usually boys ranging from twelve years old to sixteen years old, are spread out to farms all over the country. In Africa alone, nearly 200 thousand children are trafficked every year (Chanthavong 2). On these farms they experience tremendously harsh treatment (Chanthavong 1). The children are enforced to work day and night, with improper living conditions, and are not fed suitably. Over 43 percent of all of the cocoa beans in the entire world are harvested from this area and the Ivory Coast (Sweatshops 2). Over one third of the Ivory Coast's economy is consisted of the wealth acquired from cocoa bean exports, and the rest of the economy is almost completely based on exports (Chanthavong 3).

Nepal is a country where child slave labor is becoming a growing problem. It is estimated that there are approximately 2.6 million child workers in Nepal (Child Labour in 1). There are countless different tasks that children are forced to accomplish, which are usually very harmful to people, especially children. Children are often forced to work in sweatshops or factories where the hours are very long and the horrible conditions can sometimes cause death. Children might have to mine or work in stone quarries. On plantations and farms children are worked very intensely to harvest crops such as sugar cane, tea, tobacco, millet, maize and rice (Child Labour in 2). Some children are sold to homes where they help around the house. Children involved in this business often sexually abused. Construction of civil projects is another area where children work. Children are frequently seen working on the streets as vendors, shoe shiners, beggars, prostitutes, and pimps (Child Labour in 2). Some children from Nepal are trafficked into India and sold there to work in the carpet making industry or the sex industry. Bonded labor in Nepal is continuing to develop into problems for children (Child Labour in 2). Bonded labor is when a child is left with a debt from their parents. Another type of bonded labor is when a child is used as collateral for a loan by their parents and the parents cannot pay back to loan. In both cases the child is forced into working for whomever their parents' owed money (Child Labour: The 6).

Child slave labor is still an increasing problem in the modern day. These examples of child slave labor in many different countries show that a great deal must be done in order to solve this problem. The larger corporations and businesses have to be dealt with and the must not promote child slave labor any longer. These businesses should actually be demoting child slave labor and all other types of slavery. Children are dying every day from harsh conditions in sweatshops and different industries.

Sources Used:

http://www.freethechildren.org/youthinaction/child_labour_the_situation.htm http://www.veganpeace.com/sweatshops/sweatshops_and_child_labor.htm http://www.nlcnet.org/campaigns/archive/elsalvador/0401/hermosa.shtml
http://www.nlcnet.org/campaigns/archive/chowdhury/041801NYTimes. shtml

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Immaculata Child Slave Labor News
Immaculata High School, Somerville, NJ

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