a difference of opinion

S:    Don’t you think that girl is a little too young to be serving us water?  She should be in a school, but here she is, labouring in your house; a house full of seemingly reasonable people.

A:    Believe me when I tell you that I would love to see her go to a school too. But the thing is that even if I fired her so that she can go to school, her parents would take her elsewhere to work. Around here, she mostly plays around with my baby sister, eats what we eat, gets ample sleep and no one ever mistreats her. My mother even teaches her whenever she can find some time. All this still might seem unfair to you, but trust me this is much better compared to most other households.           

S:    I bet they all say the same thing. What you’re really saying is that you are a kind master. You can’t deny the fact that you are employing a child labourer. You can rationalise it however you want, but really, it doesn’t make it right. When she grows up, she will have zero education, zero skills to market, and guess what? Before you know it, her daughter will be in the same position as her, and you, the kind master, would have played quite a role in putting her there.

A:    We are a poor country, Sadiq. Different classes exist. In Gujrat, my brothers and I were expected to help out with chores. More than individual right Asian culture is structured around duties, duties to family, duties to the tribe. And once you add economic considerations, it becomes absolutely necessary. Poor families depend on their young ones to earn and make ends meet. They can hardly afford to feed themselves, let alone feed another ten children, or bear the expenses of educating them.

S:    So, you realise there is a problem, but you more than happy to take advantage of it. Can you not see how you are a part of the system, propagating this cycle. If you don’t take a stand, why would the cash-hungry brick kiln owner mend his ways, why would the cash-starved families? And if you are truly concerned about her well-being as you claim, why not send her to school on your own expense? Just this one child?