CHILD LABOUR OR A MATTER OF SURVIVAL?
It hurts to the core to see little children cutting their fingers to the bone and taking on the responsibilty to feed their families. Their little hands with skin so rough and torn you would have believed that they belong to an old man makes me shudder. For me looking on the outside in it looks like torture – child abuse. But is it really? Is it as simple as that?
For myself, a woman growing up in West, who has never felt desperate or known what it means to starve or have death-threats I can only condemn this barbariarism. But then again I have been fortunate enough to be living in a part of the world where there exists a wonderful welfare state which has a compulsory education system, free health care and a democraticly elected government. And I must therefore remind myself that this was only possible because developing countries had to give up their freedom so we could have ours. Through colonization, imperialism, industrial revolution and slavery we were able to become a modern society. We have been successful only because we have exploited and reap the benefits after plundering India, Africa and the Middle East. Even to this very day, oil and other resources are being depleted from the Middle East to preserve our living standard.
During the industrial revolution Britain had work houses for children and even for whole families who were in debt to the state. The famous British writer, Charles Dickens, wrote extensively about the unfair treatment experinced by Britians child-labourers. Working long hours in unbearable conditions in industries or coal mines. It wasn’t until the end of the 1800s that laws were made to protect childrens rights and to offer free schooling that changes.
Unfortunately developing countries today do not have the resources that Western countries had in the 1800s. Their resources have been depleted, their governments are corrupt and they have no welfare state to speak of.
f parents are forced to stop their children from working how are they to have basic necessities like food, clothing and a roof over their head? Where will their children go? Will there not be more violence within the family home because of the added pressures on the parents to make ends meet?
I’m against child labour. But I’m also against the hypocrisy of governments and organisations who do not understand the dynamics of the countries they have sanctions against. Maybe looking back to the 1800s will shed some light on how things can be improved. Clearing the debt the developing countries owe to the West is a start
Globalissues.org has put it this way:
Millions of people around the world are living in poverty because of Third World debt and its consequences. Latin America owes £365 billion in debts to other countries and banks (36 per cent of what it produces – its Gross National Product), while sub-Saharan Africa owes £140 billion (83 per cent of its total GNP). These enormous debts mean that repayments to Western Creditors take priority and ordinary people suffer: in poor health, in restricted access to education, in lack of employment and in limited ability to trade and provide for themselves.