Critical Analysis of Child Labor

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In a cramped, one-room home on the outskirts of Manila, Maryann Aroma, thirteen, and her two sisters glue the ears, earrings, and necklaces on stuffed toys made for export. Their mother has forced the girls to work since age eleven. In India, at the age of twelve, Mohammed Salahuddin works sixteen hours a day in a factory located just outside of New Delhi, embroidering elegant sequined jackets. It is a troubling image for a parent to realize the wrapped sweater or plastic toy that will excite their child’s little hands this holiday season may have another pair of little hands behind them. In China, Thailand, and other developing countries, children as young as five are working to produce toys or pack clothing that will be enjoyed by more privileged kids overseas. (Morris) In the short story entitled “Live Free and Starve” by Chitra Divakaruni, child labor is closely critiqued and examined. Divakaruni feels that labor could be a good thing because it keeps food on the table and a roof over their head. She argues that although it is true that they are only paid a small amount of money, it is just enough to get by. If these children were not working, they would be begging on the streets, hungry for food. Her conclusion on the matter is to leave the laws unchanged because she feels that the opposing life that these kids could have may be worse. Child labor in third world countries is similar to slavery. Although the course of the extent of abuse varies throughout each country, the majority of children are treated like slaves. The biggest difference between the lives of these children and slavery is the payment, which is usually around fourteen dollars a month. Abuse is common and even murder happens occasionally. It is true that the lives of these children will not change over night, but it is necessary to make laws towards improving the conditions in which these kids work so that change can eventually come. By analyzing the lives of these young foreign children, I have come to the conclusion that all governments should take steps towards banning labor. In the dictionary, child labor is defined as, “1. Work done by kids full-time under the age of fifteen. 2. Work that prevents kids from attending school, such as unlimited or unrestricted domestic work. 3. Work that is dangerous for kids and that is hazardous to their physical, mental, or emotional health.” (Child Labor Definition) There are many reasons why child labor should be stopped, but the most significant reason is to stop or slow the pain and suffering of these young and innocent children. This form of labor is not work, but abuse. “Overall, the government estimates that 800,000 of Bolivia’s children work as laborers. Many work in hazardous conditions as prostitutes, drug-traffickers, in quarries and mines, or on farms and in factories” (Henne). As they strive for perfection, worried about getting fired, many injuries take place, but yet they must keep working. Ministers, attending a conference in the state-owned arts and crafts center in the medieval city of Fez, Morocco, drink coffee and sip tea. As they are relaxing, five-year-old girls and boys are working their fingers to the bone in the back room, weaving carpets for tourists. Because some are not tall enough to reach the tables, they must stand on wooden boxes. Their arms have cuts and scrapes where their scissors have missed the wool. They are timed, being continually reminded that they must keep weaving at a fast pace in order to get paid. For all of their hard work, their parents only receive the U.S. equivalent to ten dollars a month for working ten hour days. While the children are still working, the rich ministers pull away in their limos, thinking nothing about the life that these young people live. (Economist) By hearing this story, many people may have feelings of sympathy and heartache for the kids living this nightmare, but will never be able to comprehend the pain and...
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