We live in the society that could be considered a consumer one. It means that its members are provided with all goods needed to meet their diverse requirements. People often buy new things, and it becomes the primary measure of their success and social position. Moreover, there are numerous cases of overproduction as multiple commodities are manufactured in amounts that exceed the demand. Under these conditions, people from developed countries can enjoy a wide variety of products.
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However, few think about the nature of this diversity and hard labor that is needed to manufacture all these commodities. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases individuals who work at factories that supply the bigger part of the world with such customary products as cocoa, garments, etc. work in horrible conditions and suffer from the lack of social protection, poverty, starvation, and extreme exhaustion. Children often experience these hardships as they have to work together with adults.
Countries of the Third World manufacture a more significant part of goods that are consumed by the rest of the world. Therefore, the situation in the sphere of cocoa and garment industry is similar. Ghana and Bangladesh could be considered centers where these products are produced and then delivered to countries characterized by the high demand for cocoa or garment. However, due to the peculiarities of the historical development of the areas and their current state, people working in these industries do not have chances for the improvement of their living conditions. Historically, Africa was the land where cocoa was cultivated and then exported to states which had colonies there (Berlan, 2009).
Plantation owners used cheap slave labor to acquire super profits and increase commodity circulation. The situation was almost the same in Bangladesh which was also used as a raw-material base and manufacturing center. Unfortunately, globalization and democratization of society had not promoted the radical improvement of working conditions. Being independent, Ghana and Bangladesh use almost identical patterns to produce cocoa and garments and enrich due to the use of cheap labor.
Child Labor and Cocoa
For instance, revolving around the peculiarities of cocoa industry in Ghana, Berlan (2009) outlines that children who live in communities related to this industry are not free from labor and have to perform a number of difficult activities to help their families to survive. The author chooses particular villages in rural Ghana to illustrate and understand the phenomenon of child labor and outline main facts related to this issue (Berlan, 2009).
First of all, even in school pupils are not free from labor. They are often asked to clear the plot land owned by the school and perform other challenging tasks. Using machetes to cut and gather weeds they had to work hard under difficult conditions (Berlan, 2009). This activity is even more dangerous than childrens work at family cocoa farms. Usually, parents supervise their kids and provide the needed guidance (Berlan, 2009).
However, the fact remains: children living in these areas are used cheap workforce to produce cocoa and earn money. There are different reasons which stipulate this situation: extreme poverty, high need for money to support a family, working traditions, historical patterns that became the part of mentality, etc. Nevertheless, we could note a particular tendency related to the countries of Africa. Poor social conditions and a low income precondition high childrens engagement in difficult and dangerous works under harsh conditions.
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Feminism, International Organizations and Labor Conditions
Therefore, there is another issue related to child labor and ruthless exploitation of workers. The fact is that the global spread of feminism obviously impacted the situation in the sphere of occupation. Women were provided with the same opportunities and working conditions as men. However, Siddiqi (2009) is sure that the states of the Third World are not affected by this movement. Revolving around the issue of sweatshop workers, she demonstrates harsh conditions under which women, both young and old ones, work. The author uses the term gender-based capitalist exploitation to describe the situation in the garment industry in Bangladesh (Siddiqi, 2009).
The given sphere guarantees high profits; however, women working there are still provided with low wages and suffer from officials noninvolvement in their needs. Moreover, there are also numerous cases of child labor use in factories. Under these conditions, despite all attempts to spread the effects of globalization and achievements of feminists movement, the situation remains complex in some regions.
There are some signs of improvement; however, the most critical issues remain unsolved. The complexity of the situation is increased by the fact that introduction of regulatory measures like the Harkins Bill (Child Labor Deterrence Bill) could make the things even worse. For instance, being afraid of penalties suggested by this document, about 50.000 children who helped their families to survive by earning money were dismissed from factories in Bangladesh (Siddiqi, 2009). It resulted in poor outcomes as they had to find even more dangerous and low-paid jobs to continue earning money. Only the intervention of human rights organizations like Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) helped to mitigate the negative impact of this bill.
Regarding the given information, it becomes evident that the problem has a historical background. The areas of the Third World had been exploited for an extended period to obtain the highest profit. For this reason, working conditions were not given attention. Unfortunately, such patterns became a part of the mentality of people who live in these areas. Since their childhood individuals have to grow cocoa and work for school to survive and acquire at least some chances to improve their state.
Moreover, traditional measures do not work in these areas as people are not provided with alternatives. The worst fact is that many children work in harsh conditions voluntarily as they realize the complexity of the situation and the high need for money. Another factor that should be discussed is the weak impact of regulatory measures as they just deteriorate the situation by depriving people of opportunities to support their families, and, as a result, children have to find even more demanding jobs.
The given readings prove a significant scale of the problem in the so-called countries of the Third World. Child labor remains one of the cheapest ways to acquire high profits. Moreover, traditional measures that are used to struggle against this problem in developed countries turn out to be inefficient as despair and absence of other perspectives make children work at factories voluntarily. In this regard, the elimination of child labor could become possible only if regions like Africa or Asia will demonstrate stable economic growth and improvement of the quality of life.
Berlan, A. (2009). Child labour and cocoa: Whose voices prevail? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 29(3/4), 141-151. Web.
Siddiqi, M. (2009). Do Bangladeshi factory workers need saving? Sisterhood in the post-sweatshop era. Feminist Review, 91, 154-174. Web.