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World Vision report highlights the dark side of globalization

From World Vision, by James Addis:

Children working at a quarry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo credit: World Vision

The interconnected nature of our 21st century world is fueling many forms of child exploitation, a new World Vision report reveals.

The report “Small World, Big Responsibility,” was released this month by World Vision’s United Kingdom office.

It says that globalization has led to the expansion of outsourcing and increased access to products manufactured around the world.

As a result, many children suffering the worst forms of child labor are producing goods for the world economy.

At the same time, companies releasing these goods on to the market are unaware or ignore the fact that exploited children are procuring raw materials or manufacturing components for their products.

The report highlights the use of mobile phones, which are made from minerals such as tantalum, cassiterite, and tungsten.

It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of workers in many of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mines, which produce these minerals, are children.

After contacting 20 mobile phone manufacturers, the report concluded that it was not always possible for companies to identify where minerals used in their products had come from.

“Mobile phone companies are unlikely to be able to say child labor is categorically not used anywhere in the process,” the report says — even though many have a “child labor avoidance” clause in their supplier codes of conduct.

To combat this problem, companies need to take the proper steps to ensure greater transparency in their supply chains and more robust guarantees that child labor has not been used in to make their products.

Meanwhile, the public needs to demand more evidence from companies about how products they use every day have been created.

Download the full World Vision UK “Small World, Big Responsibility” report here (PDF). Learn more about World Vision at: worldvision.org

This post has one comment

  1. Timberati says:

    And, when people demand greater transparency and more accountability what happens to the children? They would still be in dire straits, but less able to eat, would they not?

    The answer may be less about sourcing materials and more one of providing a reward of some kind to have these children attend school at a greater profit than what they make in the mines, perhaps similar to Brazil’s Bolsa familia.

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