Child labour is morally wrong, but as consumers we are happy to buy cheap goods without asking questions. Are we hypocrites on this issue?
When it comes to child labour: are we hypocrites?
Although chores could be good for kids development, children work is largely considered as an unacceptable practice that deprives them from enjoying their youth, especially education and playtime. But it has been a reality for centuries all over the world, and even if most western countries formally abolished child labour nearly a hundred years ago, it’s still a generalized practice in developing countries since the industrial revolution.
There is a wide consensus and a growing international mobilization to end child labor, but at the same time, a significant part of goods and energy we use are processed in third world countries with weak regulation against children work, and some of these products are actually manufactured by kids. Consumers cannot always keep track of all the information about the origins of every item or service they buy. In a globalized economy, products are coming from everywhere, and it's sometimes even difficult to identify which countries were involved in their production and supply chain. In addition, one could simply state that we are not responsible for other countries' lax regulation, and that the citizen of these countries have to fight for their rights and decide the minimum legal working age. In reality it is not easy to understand the legal frameworks and common practices in those countries.
However, these arguments, or the silence of most of us on this issue, could be also understood as form of hypocrisy. Even if we don't like child labour, it's very practical to buy cheap products without asking questions. Responsible consumption is a reality. Consumers have a great power, and could push their local authorities to adopt laws on importations such as a "no child labour" label on products or even more drastically, a complete ban on products made using children work. Moreover there are organizations that provide this information and point a finger to multinational companies that are employing children in their supply chains.
Watch this video about child labour by UNICEF
Should we protest more and take action? Is it somebody else responsibility?
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Debate on child labour: are we just hypocritical consumers?
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