Enslaved Children Freed After Being Forced to Make Christmas decorations
Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:38 PM
The children, as young as 8 years old, were keptin rooms approximately six feet by six feet and had been forced to work up to19-hour days making the decorations, which advocates believe may have beenintended to be sold on the cheap in the United States.
Human rights group Global March for Children ledthe raid, but also got help from former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown,who now serves as the United Nations special envoy for global education.
The 14 children who were freed are now in theprocess of being reunited with their families, who are scattered across India.
Brown released video to ABC News and Yahoo! Newsrevealing what he says were the illegal conditions in which the children in Delhi werediscovered.
"There is no parent in the world who wouldever want their child to be subjected to conditions that you see in these filmsof children in dingy basements, without air, without food, without proper care,being forced into child labor for all these hours of the day. I think everyparent who sees these films will want this practice brought to an end asquickly as possible."
Child advocates sayAmerican consumers would likely never know the origin of goods made with childlabor, which Brown says has become a global epidemic that needs to be solved.
Ina push to garner more attention on the issue worldwide, Brown's office releaseda new report today, "Child Labour and Educational Disadvantage – Breakingthe Link, Building Opportunity," which says 91 million children in theglobal workforce are younger than 12 years old.
Inthe case of the children rescued in Delhi, he says they wereboth injured and scared.
"Some of them are lacerated because they'reworking with glass. And we found these children in this basement. They were notbeing paid," he said. "They had been trafficked themselves. And they weremaking these Christmas decorations that were being sold in our shops and ourweb sites in the West."
Priyanke Ribhu of Global March says many childrenin India areoften lured away from their parents by gangmasters who befriend their parentsin the remote villages where they live. The gangmasters reportedly promiseparents their kids will be taken to a better place where they will be provideda real education and many great opportunities they could not receive in theirvillages. Parents are also often told the children will be able to send moneyback home to help their families.
Far too often, Ribhu says, the children simply endup locked away behind padlocks only to work 17-,18-, even 19-hour days with noone to help them. Ribhu says holiday decorations similar to those discovered inthe recent raid can be found on eBay and in other marketplaces online or instores.
In addition, she says, the items are often soldoff into a sophisticated network of suppliers that make it nearly impossiblefor retailers or consumers to know whether the goods they are purchasing havebeen made by child labor.
Ribhu warns, however,there are some tell-tale warning signs American consumers can be on the lookoutfor if they wish to avoid purchasing products made with child labor. First, shesays, if the holiday decorations you are purchasing are not labeled with thecountry they are made in you might want to be concerned. Next, she says if theyhave an unusually low price and are marked as "hand made" it isanother red flag.
Ribhualso warns to be cautious when examining "hand made" items that arealso marked as being made in India.
Whilechild labor was largely outlawed in the United States following theindustrial revolution more than 100 years ago, Brown told ABC News and Yahoo!News that India has yet to ban childlabor itself. He says currently, the country only has a ban on hazardousworking conditions, but he wants to pressure the government to immediately takeaction to protect children there.
"Iwant the pressure on these employers, the gangmasters, the slave employers. ButI also want the pressure on governments so they make sure the police are theretelling employers that if they are caught hiring child laborers, they will beprosecuted," he said.
Consequently,Brown is pushing the Indian Parliament to immediately pass something called theChild and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill, which would ban all forms of childlabor for children younger than 14 years old in India. Through his rolewith the United Nations, Brown also plans to deliver a petition to theParliament calling for the passage of the bill.
"Oneof the things I want to see happen in the next few days, is the IndianParliament take the action that is necessary to outlaw all forms of childlabor, but at the moment, thousands of children are being trafficked, thousandsof children are being sold into what is effectively slavery," hesaid.
Inaddition, Brown is calling for an international summit to address the issue ofchild labor. The goal of the summit is for world leaders to develop a roadmapto eradicate child labor everywhere by 2020. Additionally, he wants to see a$13 billion increase in funding to address the issue. Last year, the Departmentof Labor released a report stating 71 nations currently produce items made withchild labor.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solisannounced $32.5 million in grants at the time, intended to combat child laboraround the world."These reports provide an overview of internationalefforts to protect children from hazardous work and identify critical gaps inpolicy and enforcement that leave them vulnerable," she said in a pressrelease.
By this September, the department addedanother three nations to the list of nations said to be using child or forcedlabor to make goods. The Department of Labor says more than 215 millionchildren are engaged in child labor, and cites the International LabourOrganization as saying more than half of those children are also performinghazardous work.
Some large companies such as LeviStrauss & Co. and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. reportedly have specificpolicies that monitor suppliers to make sure no child labor is used in theirproducts. Brown says regular members of the public can help too by adding theirnames to the petition he plans to personally deliver to the Indian Parliament.
"Signthe petition asking the Indian government to take action immediately … so thatanother year does not go past with the complacency about child labor," hesaid. "(The holidays are) a time when we should be celebrating, but we'reactually unfortunately exploiting young children."
The public can add their voice to thepetition by visiting www.educationenvoy.org. If you have specific informationabout where goods made by children are sold you can email@example.com with that or other stories to investigate.
"The legitimate object of government is 'to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves'." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Fragment on Government" (July 1, 1854?), p. 221.
Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:59 AM
Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:18 AM
Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:41 AM
Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:58 AM
I'm going to make my Christmas ornaments from now on. None of this buying things made in other countries crap. You just cannot trust those overseas manufacturers, even if they are working for/with an American company. While they are improving quite a bit, unless these companies are kept in the spotlight, they won't worry about working conditions of their partners' employees. They are more focused on their next quarterly conference call. It's mostly about reputation risk to them. It's sick.
My sister has done that for years. Amongst the havoc which is Xmas time with four kids and a full time job, she manages to find time to create a new Xmas tree, home decorations and every last ornament, each year... You would think she bought the rights to Xmas she's so into it! She loves it, and you may too!
Edited by Gegel, 06 December 2012 - 10:59 AM.
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