A Tall Order

In Sialkot, Pakistan, the largest employers are from the sporting goods industry. It is where they manufacture some of the best hand made footballs which will be used in Europe and the United States. Because of pressure from these Western nations no child labor is involved. Some children, however, do work and may be a primary or important bread winner for their family. Since they cannot be employed by the sporting goods industry, they end up in bricks factories, a harder and more dangerous work. Some wonder if in order to assuage the conscience of well off Westerners, some children are paying the price. It’s an old argument. The fact remains that whether in the carpet industry, with harvesting coffee or cocoa fair trade practices are now in place making sure that the products where no child labor was involved can be easily identified. It’s unfair and immoral that children should have to work, it’s wrong that parents feel the need to push their children to work, it’s even worse that some have to work in dangerous and difficult conditions. But our adding our complicity to these practices won’t change the reality. The fight against child labor looks like it will not only be long and arduous, it will likely be won industry by industry, country by country, if need be individual employer by individual employer. Our relenting on our values and our goal will only delay the end of child labor practices. The answer lies in tackling the brick and other dangerous industries and establishing mechanism for those children to go to school and learn a trade. A tall order, but a necessary one.