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Monday, 15 September 2008

DW TV report on child labour

Today I watched a report on Deutsche Welle TV on child labour.

DW TV had billed it as a report on child slavery, but after watching it, I got the impression that the report was more about child labour than it was about child slavery.

Two DW TV reporters, Rebecca Gudisch and Tilo Gummel travelled to India posing as potential buyers and took video recordings which showed how some children are being taken from their families and are being made to work very long hours in stone quarries, with very little protective gear and for very little or no money at all. The report also shows how some families are working in the mines with their children.

None of the children who are featured in the report appear to be going to school or to have access to medical care.

On returning to Germany, the reporters confronted German wholesalers and companies that use paving stones imported from India. The reporters showed that children were involved in quarrying and processing the stones -- and most companies responded by cancelling the contracts they had with the Indian wholesalers and mines that supplied them.

Job done.

Excerpt the poverty -- which makes it possible for families to encourage their children to work very long hours for very little money -- remains. Also, I suspect that as the mines lose German contracts and revenue, this poverty will worsen for those families that work on the mines and who rely on the income that the mines provide.

2 comments:

jobitek said...

You are right in noting the effect the canceled contracts on the families left behind in India. It is more beneficial, and likely cheaper for the German companies to distance themselves from that sort of labor than it is for them to try to affect any difference, say by ensuring that the families are supported more, or constructing schools etc. Essentially, veering away from the mission statement or vision of any profit making company is the ultimate excuse for breaking contracts rather than cleaning up after themselves. But at the end of the day, Ambrose, do you want to quibble about the semantics of child slavery versus child labour? Don't both sit equally uncomfortably in the mind?

Ambrose Musiyiwa said...

Child slavery and child labour are two very different concepts/realities. To suggest that the two are synonymous is either pure mischief or sheer carelessness because while a slave might be a labourer, a labourer is not necessarily a slave.

The DW TV report shows that the children are working to supplement their families' income. In the absence of other means through which families can support and sustain themselves, there is nothing wrong with children engaging in paid work.

What is unacceptable is to deprive these children and their families of a source of income and not provide an alternative means through which they can sustain themselves.