Chapter 23 » 23.29

Social justice


In the 1970s children could still be found picking crops in pesticide-soaked fields of the USA, labouring on building sites in Mexico, in sweat-shops in the East End of London, being injured in factory accidents in Italy, making carpets in Turkey, assembling plastic toys in Hong Kong, labouring as unofficial sub-employees in Indian factories, and working in agriculture almost everywhere. Even the nineteenth-century chimney boy has his twentieth-century equivalent – boys employed on Saturdays to crawl through and clean factory air ducts…

The attitudes which have perpetuated child labour are likely to remain a fundamental problem; attitudes which treat particular groups, such as women and children, as subservient and expendable and which respond with violence even to non-violent movements towards reform… The all too frequent cruel exploitation of child labour is a scandal. It is doubly a scandal when it co-exists with massive adult unemployment. What is needed now is a concerted effort to launch a wide-ranging programme of reform.

James Challis, 1979

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