Boycotting Companies That Use Child Labor Shines Light on Other Issues in Employment
For many Westerners, child labor is the most abhorrent form of labor. It is estimated that 215 million children currently work in illegal or hazardous conditions around the world. But, child labor is a symptom of a greater issue that affects all ages, not just children.
The number of people worldwide that work in conditions that are exploitative is very high. There are still many cases of indentured servitude, slavery and human trafficking that take place on every continent. The most vulnerable people in the world are at risk of working in these conditions no matter what country they live in.
Indentured servitude and modern day slavery are systems that continue to destroy lives across the world. In some cases, labor laws only unwittingly help those who are in control of their employees continue to abuse them. One woman who tried to leave a harsh situation in Qatar was not permitted to leave her abusive employer because he would not give her permission.
Under national law, employees must have the permission of an employer to quit their jobs. Since foreign workers make up 94% of laborers in the country, it is certain that this is not an anomaly by any means.
From Indonesia to Pakistan to the United States to the United Kingdom, both individuals and companies take advantage of poor people for their own financial gain. Many people who do not experience the horrors of slavery directly believe it is something that was left in the colonialization of the past.
Unfortunately for millions of workers, modern slavery is a real issue. Boycotting companies that use practices like child labor can open the door for the acknowledgment and discussion about the abuse that happens in homes and businesses around the world.
People Become More Globally Aware of Economic Issues
In America, many politicians like to make economics a political issue. What few people acknowledge or realize is that the way businesses conduct themselves reflects more than just the kind of market economy that the country has. Economic issues are humanitarian issues both at home and abroad.
Since the use of child labor is the result of poverty being exploited by companies and individuals, this touchy subject can be used to enable a conversation about the true role of economics.
Economics is at the heart of many threats to society. From global warming to global conflict, the desire to keep profits flowing can be found in many areas. Global companies can shape the global economy. Companies like Coca-Cola have huge impacts on both national and world economies. This is the reason that the CEO of Coca-Cola has a standing meeting every month with the United States president.
Coca-Cola revenues makeup 40% of the GDP of Swaziland. The company’s global revenue positions it as the 84th largest economy in the world.
By boycotting global companies and increasing the awareness about how much sway some companies truly have over not over the economy, but the world, people may be able to demand that these companies make a positive difference in the world as a whole by adjusting the way they do business.
Boycotting Child Labor Enables Conversation about What Childhood Is
In much of the Western world, people believe that a childhood should be spent playing, learning and growing. But, these beliefs are specific to a specific place, time and culture. Not all groups of people believe that children should avoid work.
Both in America and in other cultures from around the world, there are groups of people that believe that work is good for children. Of course, work that is dangerous to a child’s health is never a good thing. However, rural and agricultural communities all over the world both encourage and require young children and teenagers to help doing labor on the farm. In some cases, families need the help of their children to keep small farms running.
This is not just true on small farms in Latin America, Africa or Asia. Children in rural America are expected to perform work around the house and on farms. This is both to enable the smooth running of the farm but also because of a societal expectation that children learn the value of hard work at a young age. Many cultures believe that this helps instill values that include fulfilling the duty of supporting their families and prepares children for a life of work both at home and in the world.
A boycott opens up a dialogue about how many different people have a different opinion about what a childhood should be. This fosters more understanding and allows people to get back to the issues that matter most.