The plight of certain underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh, India as well
as many in Africa is something that we are all aware of. The children have
barely enough food to eat, let alone the fancy clothes, toys and other things
that children of more developed countries are lucky enough to have. Instead of
going to school to gain a good education, children in underdeveloped countries
set out to work from as young as four or five years old. By the age of twelve,
most of them are given the responsibilities of looking after and supporting
their parents who are often weak from hunger and ill health.
Deprived of any
form of education from such a young age, these underprivileged children are
forced to take up illegal odd jobs which often have hazardous and unsuitable
working conditions. Since it is illegal for young children to work, the
corporations or factories that do hire these children
hide them away from the main working areas. The children are thus
trapped for long stretches of time in dark and dirty rooms. In India, for
example, there are children who work in factories which manufacture matches. The
working hours in these factories are long and the work tedious, but what is most
significant is that such factories are potential fire hazards. Not only do these
children risk their lives by working, but they are also
exploited as they are paid minimal wages.
Children in third
world countries have also been found to be working in garment factories which
supply jeans and other modern wear to the rest of the world at a price that can
be ten times the wage paid to each child monthly. In 1990,
the United Nations encouraged countries to prohibit the import of products
made by children under the age of 15. This threat led to great panic
in the Bangladesh garment industries which immediately dismissed child workers.
However, once the attention disappeared after some time, it was back to business
for some companies, but more discreetly this time.
may think such measures will stop the problem of child exploitation, but the
truth is they may lead to other problems. Even though the garment
factories may be exploiting children by paying them low salaries, they do
nevertheless provide them with a more or less safe working environment and
proper jobs. Dismissing children from work does not necessarily mean that
children will no longer work. In fact, they may end up in the hands of drug
pushers or other criminals and lead a life of vice selling drugs or steal for a
The problem of child exploitation is one which is difficult to
resolve, but it can be done by a sincere government willing to help the poor and
members of the public playing their part to help.