The German weekly Der Spiegel has a report about the unintended consequences of child labor laws in one Pakistani city known for producing soccer balls. Apparently children were frequently employed in the factories, until child labor "advocates" in the West forced companies like Nike and Adidas to ensure that their suppliers weren't employing children. But what happened to the kids? Surely after they were freed from their toiling in the factories they went to school and now have well-paying office jobs, right?
Parents now send their children to the brickworks and into metalworking companies where no one is worried about corporate image. The families need the money to survive. The local sports companies are aware of what's happened but they want to fulfil the wishes of their Western customers. After all, the people who spend a lot of money on footballs want to do so with a clear conscience. The customer in a sports retail outlet doesn't realize that young girls are now hauling bricks right next door to Danayal, the stitching factory.
"Ten or 12-year-olds were well off here," says one manager who asked not to be named. "They learned a trade here that secured them an income for life. Now we're having trouble finding new stitchers."
Something tells me that making bricks is considerably more difficult and hazardous than sewing soccer balls, and probably pays less. Let's just hope they don't shut down the brick factory, too, or prostitution might be their next job.