Child Labour

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~Child labour and poverty are inevitably bound together and, if you continue to use the labour of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labour to the end of time

A couple of months ago, a reader of my blogs asked me to write something on child labour. Whenever I tried writing something about it, my mind was befuddled with a lot of thoughts. Most of the things I used or purchased had a supply chain in which child labour was involved at one stage or another. Makeup, jewellery, clothing, food almost every industry is practising this evil job. In a country like mine, child labour has become a necessity for the underprivileged class. The work of their children helps these people in their survival. For them, children are their assets. The more children they have, the more will be their household income. Such families don’t spend much on grooming their children, or on their education. On the other hand, their children earn for them and try to make a good living for themselves and their parents. And when they grow up the same cycle is repeated by them and this continues for generations. It is also a cause of more underprivileged and uneducated population.

Capitalism is a much-debated and criticised system that is prevailing in the majority of the places in today’s world. The worst thing about this is that owners want to earn maximum profits out of their businesses. As a consequence, the high-end companies that are present in the first world countries make profits by outsourcing labour work from third world countries. As in first-world countries, labour is costly, and human rights are very much ensured. So these high-end businesses can’t get maximum profit if they produce such products in their native countries. So, they get it done from the third world countries where labour wages are very less, and it is easy to violate human rights. The incident of Rana Plaza is an example of this inhumane manufacturing and earning of profits which caused thousands of people to lose their lives.
Small children are also involved in making high profits for these giant ventures. It affects their health, education, development everything. I want to ask a question from girls have you ever applied highlighter on your cheeks or any other shimmery product? How amazing you look with that glitter on oh Wao! But have you ever wondered how many small lives are still in darkness due to that sparkling glitter? The magical ingredient “Mica” that is used in most of our cosmetics is mainly exported from India. Children are involved in extracting this product from the mines at the cost of their lives. They are not even appropriately paid and work without any medical insurance. Education, development and childhood of these children are compromised just because they are born in an underprivileged class. Similar violation of children rights can be seen in garments, diamonds, automobile, electronic and almost all industries.
Till this point, I have only highlighted what the problem is without giving any solution. No doubt child labour is an issue which is running in the veins of this society, but how can we stop this? Some people will say education can prevent this problem. If we provide free of cost education to everyone, no one will do child labour. But unfortunately, this is no solution to this monstrous issue. My very generous cousin who has a heart of gold and wants to educate every child took the initiative to sponsor the education of 4 5 children. Parents were delighted initially, but within two-three days they pulled their children out from the school and sent them back to work. The reason was not that education is expensive, but the idea was that they were earning money through those children. The children were their assets, and now they were becoming an expense. So my cousin had to pay to the parents too to keep them studying. But again the children went back to work because the children also needed money to buy things for themselves. So providing education or stipend was not a solution but changing the mentality is. This mentality of these parents, which consider children as their earning hands is required to be stopped. Parents should learn that it’s their responsibility to provide a reasonable life to their young ones and if they can’t, then they should restrain themselves from producing them.
Today the world has developed so much, and we consider ourselves as an evolved society. Hence, we need to get ourselves educated and see what is happening behind the big names. We are paying significant money to the brands but are they using it to pay people who are involved in their supply chains or are they using it only to fill their own accounts? In today’s time, it is not difficult to bring any company from the moon to the ground due to the global accessibility of information and communication. Why are we not using it for millions of children who are losing their lives, their childhood every day?
I am also a part of this evil crime. A boy who is just 15 years old is working at my maternal home. When he came to our house, he was so thin that his ribs can be seen. He was malnourished. I was reduced to tears when I heard his story. The young boy has nine siblings, and his father died when he was very young. He started working when he was only eight years old at a small hotel which is mainly for the truck drivers. He was given a very minimum income, was call bad names and also beaten sometimes if he makes any mistake. Four months back, my house helper left our home, so we needed a domestic worker, and my father asked several people to see any person who can manage the household chores. His barber, who is the brother of this young boy asked my father to keep his brother as a worker. His brother was unemployed, and due to that, he was a bundle of nerves. The barber insisted to my father that he should give his brother a chance. The young boy was brought to our house I was very much against it in the beginning, but when I listened to the stories, the young soul told me about his previous job I thought he is at a much better place now. Sometimes we have to make a choice and select less wrong between two wrongs soon after we decided to keep the boy as our housekeeper.
It has been three months since the young boy is working at our place and I can see the flesh on his skin now. He is not malnourished like before. Although the boy has to do household chores, however, my mother also provides him a time to watch television, play in the park and he eats the same as we eat. I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong, but if we don’t let him work here he will go somewhere else and probably the conditions will be adverse for him. If you have child workers in your house, be polite, to them make them learn some skills so that they can earn something good for themselves in future. And also let them do some child-like activities. Don’t take their childhood.
Another area where a lot of children are working and learning every day how to kill their self-respect and beg others is the begging industry. Unfortunately, this industry is growing big with every passing day. Again people who are involved in it are producing a lot of children so that they can earn more money. I do only one thing to protest against this, and that is “I don’t give any money to these children or their parents”.
I want to ask Muslim people who follow religion a question that interest is not allowed in Islam because it is money without any struggle or risk. We consider that giving interest is as bad as taking it right? Begging is also forbidden in Islam then how do you give money to these beggars and consider it a source of your reward in the hereafter? When we can’t stop wrongdoing, I think the least we can do is that we should not promote it. I will prefer giving money as a tip to a person who is giving me some sort of service than giving it to the beggar. If you think these individuals are not able to find jobs that’s why they are doing it then I just want to quote an example; In my office every other day someone is complaining about not finding a good housekeeper it means that the demand is very high as compared to the supply. These people chose to be poor. Create job opportunities for them if you want to help them don’t make them dependent on begging by giving them money. Also if someone is selling something on the road like pens, people tell the sellers we don’t want pens, but you can take this money. No, it is not right to give someone money without taking his/her product or service in return. You are teaching that person to earn money without making any effort. Take that pen, dusting cloth, flowers, anything that they are selling and then give them the money. Promote their businesses, not begging. Don’t give money to young children and don’t promote child labour. They don’t even get this money at the end it is being taken by their guardians then what the point of giving them is?
Hence child labour is an evil that is existing in this society. It can only be eradicated if we educate the parents, kill the opportunities and try to eliminate poverty. If it is not plucked out from society, it will result in a population explosion and more poverty. To all my readers I want to say, please be kind to other beings, especially to these blooming flowers of God which either bloom in their future or become rotten humans for the society and that all depends on their childhood experiences.

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