Recently my daughter Ainsley wrote a school assignment entitled “Cheap clothes at too high a price.” Her opening question was “When is a cheap shirt too expensive?” Her answer, “It is when it comes at the cost of a child.”
According to the World Vision “Creating markets for child-friendly labour” report, 168 million children over the age of 5 years are involved in labour. That means one in ten children across the globe are currently engaged in child labour.
Children can work and sometimes there are good reasons for them to do so. They may help out with the family business after school, have a part time job to get pocket money, or they may even look for work to give them experience in a field they would like to be employed in as an adult. This is not what we mean by child labour. The International Labour Organization, defines child labour as, “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.”
Often child labour means that children can no longer go to school or have to leave school early, and in some cases they are separated from their families, enslaved, or work in dangerous environments. These children are being exploited just so we in the West can get cheap products. We would never consider this an acceptable cost if it were our children.
In April this year, I was at an event held by World Vision, and the keynote speaker was child campaigner, Dr Jayakumar Christian. He told terrible stories of children being chained up so that they wouldn’t run away from the factories where they worked. He suggests we have a moral obligation to do something about this. Jayakumar recently wrote, “Economies which turn a blind eye to the exploitation of children through labour are condemning individuals, families and communities to a bleak future.”
It is easy to be outraged by these stories, but feel helpless to do anything about it.
In November this year, twenty world leaders will gather in Brisbane for the G20. They represent the major economies of the world and 85 per cent of the world’s GDP. This is a great opportunity for Mosaic and churches on the Gold Coast to stand up and defend the children around the world who find themselves in child labour or slavery.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
How will the governments of the world know how we feel about child labour unless we tell them?
Write them a postcard and let your voice be heard. Let’s tell them we want G20 nations to introduce requirements in their tender processes that make sure companies must identify and report where child labour is involved in their supply chain; prioritise the best interests of children and ensure authorities protect children by being willing to monitor the actions of companies, and also, terminating contracts where children are exploited.
In the coming weeks postcards will be available if you want to join us and be an advocate for these children.
Micah 6: 8
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.