Child Labor is a complex issue around the globe because the view on Child Labor differs
by country. Child Labor is actually accepted in certain parts of the world where
poor child work long hours in dangerous work environments for a chance to escape
poverty. At a time when children should be in school, they have given up their childhood
due to child exploitation. As an importer, not only do you need to recognize the
Child Labor laws in the country of origin but you will also need to know the Child
Labor laws in the country of destination. The negative publicity of importing products
from a country which promotes child labor can be devastating to your import business.
Many famous brands from large companies have fallen into this trap.
International Child Labor
The International Child Labor Organization is responsible for setting the child labor
standards around the world. Its philosophy is that children under a certain age
should not be engaged in any type of economic activity. The age is set at 15 years
old under the International Labor Organization's Convention 138 which was adopted
in 1973. The standards do not cover children helping out in family businesses or
family farms. Convention 138 also states that in countries where the education and
economic systems are under developed, the minimum working age is 14 years old.
Child Labor in Apparel Sector
Underage children working in sweat shops and turning out apparel has received a lot
of media attention. So much so that many businesses and industries are proactively
setting their own code of conduct regarding the purchase of clothing from manufacturers
which engage in child labor. The children are often working in small subcontracting
shops or homework environments where guards control the entry and the exit of the
Child Labor in Agriculture
Children in this industry often work alongside of their families planting and harvesting
crops. They are also exposed to dangerous chemicals and machinery. Examples of
child labor in agriculture include children picking coffee beans in Central America
or doing labor in sugar fields of Brazil.
Child Labor in Domestic Service
Children are employed as servants cleaning and cooking for their wealthy employers.
Almost 90% of the children engaged in this domestic service are girls. They receive
minimal food and housing as part of their work. Their food source is sometimes table
scraps. The exploitation of child labor in this environment can lead to sexual abuse.
Children servants are still in existence by the millions in South Asia, Africa,
Latin America and Southeast Asia. Although child labor is less prevalent in developed
countries, they can still be found in parts of North America and Europe where young
teens are employed to serve the wealthy. They are often hidden from the neighbors
making it difficult for the authorities to prosecute.
Child Labor and the Importer
As an importer who is interested in starting an import business, you need to carefully
check out your supplier's workers. Make sure that child labor is not exploited.
If you find out only after you started doing business with the suppliers, your troubles
can be quite exasperating.
Aabas L., Import to Morocco
“I am in the import business. I speak multiple languages: English, Arabic and French.
Your site is a wealth of information beyond just how to export out of China. Thanks
for taking the time to share.“