Stolen Childhood

Written by Stephanie Herr SCU ’17

India is labeled as a hotbed for child labor with nearly ¼ of child laborers coming from India alone when looking at child labor worldwide (B., 2015). Child labor can be defined as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical-mental development” (Srivastava, 2011). Child laborers from India are typically found working in the agriculture, fashion, or tourist industry and are between 5 and 14 years old (Zweynert, 2015). Children from rural areas are more likely to be child laborers than children from the cities; this creates a great education disparity between rural children and children from the cities because kids who work are taken out of school.

It’s important to know about child labor before going to India because many child laborers have probably made a piece of clothing we own or have owned. Not only that but many well-known U.S. companies like Hanes, Puma, and Wal-Mart have employed children 11 years old or younger to sew clothing being sold in Western countries (The National Labor Committee, 2006). The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) found that parents are lied to about working and pay conditions for their children in factories by factory recruiters. Parents are told that their children will be well-paid and will work in a good environment when in reality the work conditions amount to some of the worst forms of child labor and have been called modern day slavery (Moulds, 2016). Parents also face the difficulty of forcing their children to work against their own will to pay off family debt they can’t afford to pay off themselves.

Girls working in clothing factoryThe photo above shows young girls working in a clothing factory. As you can see there’s not a lot of room work.

This topic goes beyond the fashion industry when visiting India because child laborers can be found working by the tourist attractions we will be visiting or near the hotels we will be staying at. This topic will help me understand the culture that exists in India when it comes to child labor and what steps are and aren’t being taken to stop this practice. The most interesting points have been how this is still an ongoing problem, how parents are convinced that this is a better future for their children (if they come from poverty), and how making money is more important than human rights for children.

image titleThe photo above shows a young boy working as a street vendor selling hot drinks.

The photo above shows young child laborers collecting rocks which will be transported using the woven basket.

Works Cited

B., D. (2015, November 10). Child Labor in India: a Poverty of Schools? Retrieved from POVERTIES: http://www.poverties.org/blog/child-labour-in-india

Moulds, J. (2016). Child labour in the fashion supply chain. Retrieved from Shorthand: https://labs.theguardian.com/unicef-child-labour/

Srivastava, K. (2011). Child labour issues and challenges. Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 1-3.

The National Labor Committee. (2006). Child Labor is Back: Children Are Again Sewing Clothing for Major U.S. Companies. New York, New York: National Labor Committee.

Wilson, Lou. (Photographer). (2008, April 2). Child Labor Still The Norm. Retrieved from http://www.indiamike.com/india-images/pictures/child-labor-still-norm

Zweynert, A. (2015, June 10). 5 facts about chold labour. Retrieved from Thomson Reuters Foundation: http://news.trust.org/slideshow/?id=9315bfd7-5134-4b07-8980-31c53fcd044a

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