Living in America, I think we sometimes forget that child labor laws don’t exist, or aren’t as strict in other countries. We hear often enough that small children in China work in factories, assembling small parts for pennies a day, and recently the New York Times ran an article about tobacco giants, Philip Morris International employing children as young as ten-years-old to harvest tobacco for their cigarettes.
As Americans, we rage at the thought of little kids performing manual labor. Kids are meant to be kids; to live and experience joy, happiness and a carefree sense of excitement and intrigue they will carry with them into adulthood in the form of memories.
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But children in Kazakhstan will carry no such memories into their adulthood. Instead, they will remember the harsh working conditions of the tobacco fields where they contracted painful rashes on their necks and stomachs while harvesting American cigarette tobacco.
Aside from the fact that I get incredibly angry about child labor, I get even more angry by the fact that despite knowing children are working in these fields and factories to help their families survive, millions of Americans still buy products from bigwig companies who employ child laborers.
Educating ourselves about these companies is the first step to stopping their use of child laborers. Once we know who’s behind the scenes, it will make it easier for us to pick and choose the products we buy, ensuring we don’t financially support big corporations who take advantage of children.