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Child Labor FAQs

Why is child labor a problem?

Exploiting children is illegal and it’s wrong. Instead of going to school and experiencing childhood, nearly 300,000 children in India, Nepal and Pakistan are spending long days working in poor conditions. Child labor also drives  down adult wages and keeps entire communities in poverty. 

Why is it vital to end child labor?

Ending child labor would help the global economy. A study by the International Labor Office shows that it would cost $760 billion over a 20-year period to end child labor. The estimated benefit in terms of better education and health is about six times that—over $4 trillion in economies where child laborers are found.

Isn’t it true that children in poor countries must work to feed themselves and their families?

That is an image that has been portrayed and may seem acceptable to some. But the reality is that children wouldn’t have to work if employers paid their parents a living wage and if governments made affordable education for all children a priority. And most child weavers are working in debt bondage, which means that they do not even earn a wage.

Child weavers often work as bonded laborers and never see a penny for their work. Those who are paid make far less than adult weavers, and even adult weavers make less in environments where child labor is used because child labor drives down wages.

Aren’t children allowed to work in some countries?

Child labor is illegal in India, Nepal and Pakistan, where RugMark works.

Work teaches skills and a sense of responsibility. Why not allow a child to work?

Letting a child help out with a task for a few minutes instills pride and self-confidence. But children don’t have the mental or physical capacity to cope with adult workloads or take full responsibility for getting a job done.

If children can’t afford to go to school, isn’t learning a trade a good idea?

Childhood comes only once, and every child has a right to celebrate it. Children are better off being children—going to school, playing hopscotch and daydreaming. No child under age 14 should be working illegally. Children should be in school. When we end child labor, adult weavers’ wages will increase and parents will be able to pay for their children’s education.

Child labor is a fact of life in poor countries. Does RugMark believe in abolishing child labor by decree?

RugMark believes in abolishing child labor child by child, loom by loom factory by factory, employer by employer, exporter by exporter, importer by importer, retailer by retailer, and consumer by consumer. Restoring childhood to the children of the world is possible and we all can take action.

Don’t child carpet weavers earn the same wages as adult weavers?

Child weavers often work as bonded laborers and never see a penny for their work. Those who are paid make far less than adult weavers, and even adult weavers make less in environments where child labor is used because child labor drives down wages.

Some child weavers work at home, side by side with other family members. Aren't they better off than child weavers in factories?

Sometimes children working at home are worse off. It’s easier for inspectors to enforce fair labor standards in a factory setting than in the privacy of peoples’ homes. Anything can be hidden behind closed doors. It is legal for children to work in the home, as long as they attend school full-time and are not working against their will.

Isn’t carpet weaving less dangerous than working with machinery or chemicals as some children do? 

The health of child carpet weavers is very poor. Many develop respiratory illnesses, spinal deformities, arthritis, and cuts and wounds from sharp tools. Many sleep on the floor next to the carpet looms and are fed only one meal a day. This leads to malnutrition and stunted mental and physical development.

If children are forced to leave carpet weaving, won’t they turn to crime or prostitution?

We hope not and we ensure that rescued children have an opportunity to go to school. When they’re old enough, children rehabilitated by RugMark have the opportunity to learn a trade if they’d like to.

In many countries, carpet weaving is an ancient and honored craft. Why deny children this form of cultural and intellectual expression?

Children who weave carpets are usually given the most mundane, repetitious tasks because they’re too young to execute complex designs. Children shouldn’t be doing any type of work that is dull, difficult, or physically exhausting. Learning at home alongside parents is legal as long as children are going to school. RugMark supports this tradition.

Won’t the weaver’s craft disappear if children don’t learn it?

The weaver’s craft will disappear if weavers aren’t paid a living wage. When apprentices are physically and intellectually mature enough to do complex work and are financially rewarded, their creativity will flourish.