Vihaan comes from an impoverished rural village in India. His parents, desperate to feed the rest of the family and believing that he would receive an education, better food and housing sent him to work for a cotton farm. Vihaan was sold for $320.
In reality, Vihaan works up to 12 hours a day under the hot Indian sun picking cotton. Exhaustion, heat stroke and malnutrition are all common. Vihaan is forced to work in unbearable conditions and lives in filthy, unheated, uninsulated field barracks, normally used to store crops or farm machinery. Physical and sexual abuse of child cotton labourers is widely reported.
Vihaan risks developing lung disease from inhaling cotton dust that has been sprayed with carcinogenic pesticides. The spraying of cotton crops with toxic pesticides is incredibly common in most cotton producing countries. Child labourers may spray toxic pesticides or work in cotton fields during and after spraying has occurred.
Vihaan is exposed to dangerous nerve agents, designed to impede the nervous system in pests. In time she may experience tremors, nausea, weakness, and in serious cases paralysis and death.
Causes & Consequences
Poverty is often cited as the main cause of child labour. It is widely believed that families will not be able to cope if their children do not work. In practice, however, the poverty argument does not hold. Precisely the opposite is true: child labour maintains poverty.
Experience shows that deep-rooted social norms, the violation of workers’ rights, discrimination against certain groups, and a poorly-functioning education system are the main reasons why children aren’t attending school.
Because children are easy to exploit and are cheap labourers, they are hired in preference to adults. Child labour thus leads to lower wages and higher unemployment among adults. Children who work and do not go to school will end up in low paid jobs later, and so will their children – and so the vicious cycle of poverty is perpetuated.
You can put an end to chid labour.
Real change requires that we the consumers, are aware that what we buy has real implications in the lives of these children. Buying only clothes that are certified as fair trade makes it more difficult for companies and farmers to use children for profits. You can help make this a child labour free world, buy ethically.