Santa’s Sweatshop

For all the talk of Christmas as a time of peace, it’s remarkable how much conflict can materialise at this time of year. From family feuds to nativity displays, it seems the tiniest of details can tick people off during the season of goodwill!

Even Santa can’t escape the yuletide flak. This poster-boy of Coca-Cola and consumerism, red and green. A murky, judgmental character who waltzed onto the scene two centuries ago and stole the show.  A man of many aliases: St Nick, Sinter Klaas, Pere Noel, Chris Cringle; a Bishop here, an elf there. No known address. Some say he chooses to live way up in the Arctic circle, far beyond Police jurisdiction.

It might appear that Santa has a lot to answer for. Perhaps his most pressing concern would be the multitude of young elves toiling in his workshop, where a world’s supply of toys are churned out every year.

Of course, such concerns never occurred to me as a kid. I always pictured Santa’s workshop as a joyous, magical place. How, after all, could a child not have fun in a Christmas factory?

A recent article tells of how police have raided just such a factory in India. Of course, there was no magical aura surrounding this workshop: a place where dozens of trafficked child labourers worked 19-hour days in tiny rooms, all to produce Christmas decorations for Western markets. Gordon Brown, now UN special envoy for Global Education, reflected on the discovery:

The suffering of these young children, cruelly trafficked into slave labour, is the real Christmas story of 2012. Their plight must become a wake-up call for all concerned about the treatment of vulnerable children around the world.

Gordon’s got a point. It’s seductive to think of Christmas as a time without questions, when we can put the troubles of the world on “mute”. And yet, at this time of year – often responsible for some 40% of retail profits – the naughty list won’t stop multitudes from making a dishonest buck at the expense of others’ freedom.

This Christmas, we invite you to enjoy the season of generosity without closing your ears. Buy responsibly, and check out our latest free resourceTraffik-Free Tags – a fun way to raise awareness while you give.

And of course, have a very Merry Christmas!

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