Industrial Revolution and Child labor
Child labor is the employment of children under an age determined by law or custom. This practice is considered exploitative by many countries and international organizations.
Child labor was not seen as a problem throughout most of history, only becoming a disputed issue with the beginning of universal schooling and the concepts of laborers and children’s rights.
Child labor can include factory work, mining or quarrying, agriculture, helping in the parents’ business, having one’s own small business (for example selling food), or doing odd jobs. Some children work as guides for tourists, sometimes combined with bringing in business for shops and restaurants.
The most controversial forms of work include the military use of children as well as child prostitution. Less controversial, and often legal with some restrictions, are work as child actors and child singers.
In England and Scotland in 1788, about two-thirds of the workers in the new water-powered textile factories were children. Subsequently, largely due to the campaigning of Lord Shaftesbury, a series of Factory Acts were passed to restrict gradually the hours that children were allowed to work, and to improve safety.
Marx argued that the industrial revolution increased hardship for children.In the 1990s every country in the world except for Somalia and the United States became a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or CRC. The CRC provides the strongest, most consistent international legal language prohibiting illegal child labor.
The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company operate a rubber plantation in Liberia which is the focus of a global campaign called Stop Firestone. Workers on the plantation are expected to fulfill an unreasonably high production quota or their wages will be halved. As a result, many workers are forced to bring children to work. The International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against Firestone in November 2005 on behalf of current child laborers and their parents who were also child laborers on the plantation.
The cocoa industry has been under consistent criticism for years over child labor in West Africa, especially Côte d’Ivoire.
In July 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund filed suit against the Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland, and Cargill companies in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of a class of Malian children who were trafficked from Mali into the Ivory Coast and forced to work twelve to fourteen hours a day with no pay, little food and sleep, and frequent beatings.
The three children acting as class representative plaintiffs are proceeding anonymously, as John Does, because of feared retaliation by the farm owners where they worked. The complaint alleges their involvement in the trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans which the companies import from Africa.