Sweatshops and Child Labor

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Sweatshop is defined as a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours and under poor conditions. Sweatshops also referred to as the “sweat factory”, creates a hazardous and unhealthy working environment for employees such as the exposure to harmful materials, dangerous situations, extreme temperatures and abuse from employers. Sweatshop workers work for long hours, sometimes without taking any breaks, and these workers are not paid for any overtime hours or the minimum wage, although it is mandatory by law. These conditions are considered risky for any person, but the worst part is that in many countries, children are being forced to work in these sweatshops. The term sweatshop is mostly associated with underprivileged developing countries especially in Asia, but sweatshops did exist at some point in United States and Europe. For Americans, sweatshops are history, but in a South Asian country, Bangladesh, people are still working in these horrible conditions, especially children. Child Labor has always been a part of developing countries and a current article about child labor in Bangladesh shows that it is never going to end. Recently, British Broadcast Corporation, also known as BBC, sent one of their newsperson, Alastair Lawson, to a safety pin factory in Bangladesh where many under aged children are employed. Lawson interviewed a ten-year-old girl named Asma, who works in that factory along with ten other children who are about her age. Asma’s job consists of “sitting on a bench alongside her co-workers, Asma operates a powerful cutting device in the poorly-lit premises for up to 12 hours a day.” The machine that Asma operates cuts the metal for the pins very thinly and if Asma makes any mistakes then she could lose her fingers on that cumbersome, heavy and dangerous machinery. When Lawson further interviews Asma, she tells him that the workers in the factory are not given any lunch breaks and there is no first aid in a case of an emergency. Asma, like other 13 million children in Bangladesh who work full time to support their families are forced to work because of the unfortunate circumstances of which their families are in. Asma tells Lawson that she does not know who she is employed by and all she knows is that she earns about two dollars a day for working twelve hours. Lawson, disturbed by the environment of the sweatshops and the unsafe condition for not just children but any human, writes, "I don't think she [Asma] understands the safety part of her work - neither she nor her workmates wear any safety gear and she seems totally unaware of the hazards.” Many of the sweatshop workers work full time to support their families and provide food for them, which causes them to work in poor surroundings in which their lives are at jeopardy. Many of these workers are victims of what, according to James Rachels, the author of The Elements of Moral Philosophy, describes as “the minimum conception of morality”, this concept states that “morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason—that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing—while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual affected by one’s decision” (Pg. 13). The reason why these workers might be in this state because they think of what the effect of their unemployment would be on their families who are depending on them for food and shelter, these workers think first about their home and then about themselves and what dangers they are facing when they go out to work in those hell holes called sweatshops. Although working in sweatshops and facing the conditions that are provided for workers there is morally wrong, but it is would not be considered ethically incorrect, because these workers are mostly uneducated and for that reason they can not find jobs in offices or other places where education is required. Another reason for why...
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