OPINION

Behind the bright windows of toys

Progress – in the historical sense of the word – has ceased to exist for some time now. The proof is in the poverty suffered by three-quarters of the world’s population. The weakest link in the chain are the children who do not eat chocolates but who work to produce them, who do not play with toys but make them in factories for other children. And there are the millions of children working on farms, in industry and in brothels. Some 300 million children around the world are working under wretched conditions, 186 million of them in mines, chemical industries or intensive farming amid chemical pesticides. Instead of playing and going to school, they are locked up with little food and no medical care; 1.2 million children are sold every year by their parents to employers or gangs. Of the 130 million children born every year, 11 million will die of hunger or disease. Another 50 million will not be registered but be taken up by landowners as a labor force or sexually exploited. In China, over 3 million children aged up to 14 live locked in 2,800 factories – to work at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for two to three months at a stretch in an environment full of dust, chemicals and synthetic fibers. Not long ago, a 13-year-old boy was seriously injured in a toy factory accident. He was taken to a hospital, accompanied by his boss. When the doctor said he could save the child’s arm, the factory boss asked which would be cheaper – saving or amputating it. When the doctor admitted the latter, the man replied, «Then cut it off.»