I hope you’re sitting down
So much awfulness has been going on in the world of children and parents while I’ve been on vacation that I hardly know where to start. How about with this little tidbit: While I struggle to get my 6-year-old to walk his dirty underwear four feet from the bathroom floor where he dropped it to the hamper, our old friends at Philip Morris are busy making kids pick tobacco:
Human Rights Watch, the group best known for documenting governmental abuse and war crimes, plans to release a report on Wednesday showing that child and forced labor is widespread on farms that supply a cigarette factory owned by Philip Morris International in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.
While child labor should be condemned in any setting, the report said, employing children on tobacco farms is particularly hazardous because tobacco field laborers are exposed to high levels of nicotine while doing their jobs.
Philip Morris responds with the boilerplate “we had no idea, oh my word,” after which they clutched a hanky, pressed the back of their collective wrist against their collective forehead, and fainted dead away on a velvet divan. Of course, it’s possible that they really didn’t know–the article points out that the company buys little of its tobacco from Kazakhstan, and most of it is used for cigarettes in the Soviet Union (phew! That makes it better!). But given that we’re talking about a tobacco company here, isn’t it more likely that right now they’re beating some mid-level operations manager with a battery in a sock for failing to think of this on his own? At the very least, I think they should install a vendor near the field selling some of that sweet, sweet tobacco candy. You know, give those little Kazakhs something to get out of their polluted irrigation ditches for in the morning.