April 12, 2007

Labor Groups Tackle Child Exploitation

Cheap labor from children working in slavelike conditions is booming worldwide. But in India, Africa and Turkey, activists are taking on the problem with education and outreach.

An estimated 100,000 boys under 14 work in Delhi’s sari mills, sold to middlemen by impoverished and uninformed parents. A local advocacy group, which says the boys are kept in filthy conditions and live and work in the same rooms, is pressuring clothing designers to commit to child labor-free textiles.

Poverty also drives West African parents to send their children to work on Ivory Coast cocoa farms, where they suffer abuse and miss out on school. The farms supply nearly half the world’s cocoa, including companies like Cadbury and Nestle.

Now, a campaign by rights activists has led one British industry group to promise to certify and monitor cocoa suppliers.

In Turkey, grassroots social workers are working with families of children illegally employed in the furniture, textile, automotive and agricultural industries. Their solution? Find work for the parents, and persuade them to send their children back to school.

Sources:

“Children robbed of childhood in zari units”
Indo Asian News Service, April 8, 2007

“Scandal of child slaves behind your Easter eggs”
Scotsman (U.K.), April 7, 2007

“Throwing a wrench in the works of child labor”
Today’s Zaman (Turkey), March 22, 2007

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