Monday, December 7, 2009

The need for ethical industrial practices

When you are purchasing your favorite article of clothing or picking up the latest toy for your child that they just 'had to have', you may be turned off if you were to know that the person making that toy was the same age as the one receiving it. Childhood slavering is not a topic that is usually advertised along with the price, as it isn't necessarily a selling point or following an ethical model of business. Yet it is a mounting problem that faces 27 million people worldwide.

The childhood slave industry is up and running in a number of ways, as greedy businesses look for ways to boost productivity and cut costs. Their perfect solution? Buy a slave for pennies on the dollar, lock them up, and set them to work. Slaves are auctioned off, but sometimes even that is too expensive and in that case they will simply be abducted and sent to work in a sweatshop. This is the case in Sudan, where since 1983 up to 14,000 children were sent off to work either in domestic fields or as camel racers in the Gulf. And while there are laws banning slavery worldwide, they are not only difficult to enforce but sometimes a joke. Evidently the 'law' isn't doing much for those thousands of boys and girls in Sudan.

Sadly, children may be forced into slavery by the very people they look to take care of them. In plenty of poor countries, families with seven or eight kids will send them off to work in garment sweatshops, such as in New Delhi. And entire families can be held captive to work as slave laborers to fulfill a debt or bond owed; often these amounts only add up to $50. And just as with slavery of the past, modern day slavery often involves substandard living conditions as well as both physical and mental abuse. Sweatshop owners love the easily manipulated minds of children as they often put of less of a fight than their older counterparts.

So how can we follow an ethical model and avoid supporting these child slaves and the sweatshops they work in? Like I said, that's tricky because much of it is done undercover and as discretely as possible; it is after all illegal. And it seems that the only time it is made a big issue is when one outfit gets busted and that bright light of guilt is
shone on them. So that is where organizations such as Anti-Slavery International come into play. They work to raid these sweatshops and free the captors but also put pressure on the governments of the countries most infested with these industrial slave labor camps. They make it possible for those who may not necessarily be able to actually man the war on slavery on site a means to still help through donations, volunteering, and and other sponsored events.

Along with the host of other issues facing our World today, the plight of those small children forced into slavery of any kind needs to be stopped, and just as Global Warming is going to take much effort all around so too will the actual end of slavery.

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