The Department of Labor came out with a comprehensive report last week on the production of goods made by child labor or forced labor, in violation of international labor standards. The list of goods is a result of 15 years of investigation and research by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB). ILAB’s list includes 122 goods, spanning 58 countries. It lists mainly food (coffee, rice, tomatoes, tea, corn, sugarcane, bananas) and building material (bricks, glass, coal, gravel), but it also includes a few unexpected items — for example, surgical instruments (which are produced through child labor in Pakistan), pyrotechnics (produced through child labor in the Philippines), and lobsters (produced by child labor in Honduras).

From the ILAB report:
“The ILO has found that 69 percent of child labor worldwide is in agriculture, and the List contains many examples of child labor in rural, agricultural economies. However, ILAB’s research also found child labor in more developed economies, in the manufacture of goods such as Christmas decorations, fashion accessories, and soccer balls for the global marketplace.

“With respect to forced labor, certain countries and regions have a higher incidence of “traditional” forms of forced labor, often linked to long­established social structures, religious beliefs, and patterns of discrimination against vulnerable groups. Such patterns are found in parts of South Asia, West Africa, and South America. Other, more “modern” forms of forced labor are linked to globalization and increased migration worldwide.22 Increasingly, individuals migrating from one country to another ­ or even within a country are entrapped by fraudulent recruitment and placement schemes that result in debt bondage, indentured servitude, and other forms of forced labor. Some victims are forcibly trafficked, while others initially accept employment voluntarily, only to find themselves in work situations from which they cannot escape without harsh penalties.”

(Thanks to my sister, who forwarded this on from the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs listserv.)

Written by Brianna Lee