The headlines are telling us that a sweatshop using child labour in India has been raided and shut down. It turns out hat this sweatshop was a subcontractor for The Gap. The store has pulled from its shelves all merchandise emanating from this factory. But is that enough?
It's a dicey thing: child labour in particular and sweatshop conditions in general in the third world. All sorts of companies obtain goods from Asian suppliers. While most of these companies are not directly responsible for what goes on with their subcontractors, they could, no doubt, do a much better job at monitoring and preventing such occurrences. The Gap could even make sure that these particular children be recompensed before being sent home. According to the news releases, they haven't been as yet.
Let's fact it, children in less developed countries do work, and that's not going to change overnight. It's the kind of work that they do, the conditions that they work in, and the very meager compensation, if any, that present the problem. That and the fact they won't be in school while they are working long, tiring hours. Children also need time to play. It's a right or should be.
Atrocous working conditions seem to be part of the development phase. European workers also had it pretty tough during the industrial revolution. My own grandfather was forced to leave home at a very early age to make his way in the world. But we know better now and must make an effort to make the world a better place. Even if life must be harder and more demanding for children in developing countries, they still need some time to be kids. While families may require some work from them, they also need time to play and learn, and western companies such as The Gap need to take some responsibility for making that happen.