You might feel better thinking that first world countries do not have to deal with child labor violations anymore. But, that’s exactly where you’re wrong. Even first world countries are responsible for the violation of child labor laws one way or another. Because according to a recent report by the International Labor Organization, over 260 Million children still work around the globe.
Legally, child labor is forbidden in most countries today. However, it’s time to snap back to reality. The children that work under violation of UN’s child labor laws are given minimum wage. With that, they also work for more hours of the day than you do! With that, the conditions of their work are hazardous to their health. According to ILO, more than 170 million children are illegally employed in textiles and garments factory.
These factories cater to popular countries of Europe, United States of America and so on. While the child labor laws did decrease the percentage by 30 percent in the period of 2000-2012, 11 percent of the workforce still includes children. Not only does that take away their right to education, but it also deprives them of proper development (mental and physical). As the fashion industry is growing around the world, the demand for cheap labor increases.
Children in the fashion industry perform all sorts of tasks. In large factories, children pick out pollen from cotton fields, pack garments, stitch buttons, cut clothes, trim threads and so on. When it comes to small-scale factories, children even go on to make pleats, embroidery, and so on.
Taking in the Marxist perspective here, cheap labor means more profit for the company. But, what are some of the other motivations of the fashion industry to exploit child labor laws, especially those found in third world countries? After all, it’s easier to find loopholes in international child labor laws. And so, that gives high fashion brands a way to open their industries and make use of low-cost labor. The following can explain why it makes it easier for the fashion industry to bypass child labor laws:
Children And Awareness
When you notice children working in textile industries popularly located in India and Bangladesh, it is mostly because children as young as 5 are unaware of their rights. A child does not have the cognitive ability to comprehend what child labor law means and how it applies to them. That automatically means that children are passive, and suing these industries for exploitation does not even come across their minds.
Children Are Delicate
Let’s take into account, the concept of how a child is a blank slate. That just means that it is easier to command them, make them agree to various tasks and so on. Many clothing factory owners even promise poor families of the children the responsibility of their education and making their future brighter. This false belief just makes it easier for companies to break child labor laws. Whilst, the families themselves hesitate to take them to court.
In the fashion industry, there are various tasks that require low-skilled labor. With that, they also require things to be handled properly in order to ensure high quality to their consumers, you and us. Various factories even hire children to pick out cotton because of their little fingers. This ensures them that crops will not be damaged.
Freedom To Exploit
Fashion industry on its own is a very complex web. And so, it gets harder and harder for the law to look at each nook and cranny and find out what’s legal and illegal. With that, big brands get their fabrics from other individual factories. That way, a lot of these big brands do not research or investigate on who is producing their fabric from them. This way, a lot of companies get away with the exploitation of child labor laws.
What Can You Do?
Fair Wear Foundation is now protesting for more and more brands and designers to sign up the code of labor laws. That simply means that these brands will comply with existing child labor laws. As many as 120 brands are already on board.
Additionally, if you notice that a factory near you is breaking child labor laws, it’s now time to report them and take them to court. Because no fashion should come at the cost of a child’s future.