New Internationalist


Issue 292

Child labour


In a way child labour is what gave me the chance to edit the NI. Sixteen years ago I visited India on my first trip to the Third World and found it unbearably difficult to be confronted so nakedly with poverty - and with my own relative wealth. My painful confusion came to a head when I met Rajesh, a small boy who served food in a restaurant in Pushkar, Rajasthan. He was a bonded labourer - tied to his employer and required to work all day for only his keep, probably in payment of a debt his parents had incurred. I agonized about whether I should attempt to 'rescue' him, giving him the money I'd brought with me instead of proceeding with my travels. But I didn't. Later I wrote a short story about the incident which caught the notice of the New Internationalist's editors sufficiently for them to interview [image, unknown] me. So I ended up with a fulfilling job while Rajesh in all probability continued to languish in effective slavery, a condition in which his own children may well now have joined him.

Somehow this anecdote seems the more relevant in a week in which I have been reading vast piles of applications from people as keen as I was to join the NI editorial team - we are in the throes of recruiting our first Australasian co-editor for many years. Both NI Australia and NI Aotearoa/New Zealand are technically independent of the international NI (dually based in Oxford and Toronto). But in reality they are very much part of this co-operative international family and we hope that the new co-editor will help bring all the constituent parts of the New Internationalist even more closely together - as well as actively representing the ideas and perspectives of the Asia-Pacific region.

Child labour is more identified with that region than with any other, though this issue tries to take a few steps beyond the 'shock horror' coverage of the mainstream media. I had an unusual head start on the research for this magazine given that I spent part of last year on contract to UNICEF doing editing work on their own State of the World's Children report on child labour. That gave me a good knowledge of the thinking and campaigning on the topic but it also left me wanting to hear more of what child workers themselves say about their life and work - which is why you'll meet a fair few in the pages that follow.

Chris Brazier
for the New Internationalist Co-operative

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This article was originally published in issue 292

New Internationalist Magazine issue 292
Issue 292

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

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