Have you ever heard the term "bonded labour"?
It isn't something that generally comes up in conversation; at least not in my experience. It isn't a topic that rates as top choice for polite conversation. Yet it is a topic that should be right up there with global warming, famine, and how we can sustain an ever-expanding population on the gifts that Mother Nature has supplied to us.
Bonded labour is when a person, often a child, is 'sold' into the service of another in exchange for a small loan. Here is the Wikipedia definition of bonded labour.
And here is how World Vision put it:
Struggling parents ‘mortgage’ their children into bonded labour to receive cash loans for family needs.
They are bonded until the family’s debt, plus interest, is fully repaid. The employers often physically or mentally abuse the children, who work in unhealthy conditions for little pay.
I don't know about you, but I don't think it is acceptable that people are put into the position that they need to 'mortgage' their children to pay for health care and other basic needs like food.
If the mere thought of that makes you queasy, try this from World Vision:
In India, these debts tend to be relatively modest, ranging on average from 500 to 7,500 rupees (about US$10 to US$160), depending on the industry and the age and skill of the child. The creditors-cum-employers offer these ‘loans’ to destitute parents in an effort to secure the labour of a child, which is always cheap, but even cheaper under a situation of bondage.
Human Rights Watch considers 15 million to be a reliable minimum indicator of the prevalence of bonded child labour in India.
Okay, so that's some of the story. Please don't be an ostrich about this issue, become an advocate for those who are not able to speak up for themselves.
If you want to read a bit more for yourself, visit World Vision New Zealand to get the whole story or look up your own country's World Vision website here.
For as small an amount as NZ$69 a child can be freed from bondage. That's probably less than most people spend on a pair of jeans in NZ ! Can you live without ONE pair of jeans for the freedom of a child ?
Need or want more information about this before acting? Try these:
- Worldpress article
- India Together article
- New York Times article
- US Department of Labour
- Human Rights Watch – "Small Change" (please read the Children's Testimonials in Section IV.)
now that you have read some more. It's time to join me in scratching this itch !
If you need some ideas about how and where to scratch, I'll be giving out some ideas over the "My Itch" series, so feel free to hang around and see if any of them appeal to you.