Foreign Policy Blogs

Is there child labor in your make-up?

Is there child labor in your make-up?To add to the post, India Continues to Battle Against Child Labor, which the 1986 Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act that stated that children under fourteen years of age were prohibited to be employed in occupations deemed hazardous, and then the 2006 law, which banned the use of child labor for domestic purposes, and in the hospitality industry.  In spite specific laws, India remains the worlds worst offender in regards to child labor abuses. Industries such as commercial sex, rug manufacturing, textiles, sports equipment, have all found themselves in the main stream spotlight, and while fashion often hits the radar, what about the beauty industry?  Do you think of slavery as you apply your lipstick and mascara, while running out the door, sheepishly at your desk or in between green lights as you rush to work?

As an abolitionist, writer, and founder of a non-profit to support survivors of modern slavery, I too still find myself often shocked and left in wonderment at where slavery can be seen.  I know it has no face, can happen to anyone, occurs everywhere and is almost like a shape-shifter in its ability to come in any form, yet I have to be honest I missed this one in my conscious effort to be as aware and slave free in my daily life.  I buy fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and sugar as my regular staples, as well I try to do the same when I buy clothes, accessories, sports equipment, and I reuse and recycle as much as I can.  But there is one place that even I didn’t stop to think about slavery being in the supply chain…my make-up!

Is there child labor in your make-up?You know that sparkle that you love in your favorite eyeshadow, well it just happens that the shine you love so well may have taken a small child hours to beat out of a stone.  Yes, child labor is used in cosmetics industry, the shine in many cosmetics comes from mica, a sheet silicate (phyllosilicate) mineral.  Mica, is a transparent mineral which is mined from the earth in thin sheets, and it is often opalescent and sparkling, but can be completely matte, and ranges in color from gray to blue to green.

Deep in the jungle of Jharkhand state in eastern India, at the end of a rutted track passable only by motorbike, a six-year-old girl named Sonia sat in the scorching midday sun, sifting jagged stones in an open-cast mine in the hope of earning enough money for a meal.  Sonia was halfway through her working day and she was already exhausted and dishevelled. Her hair was matted and her pretty flower-patterned dress spoilt by dust. She barely had enough energy to glance at her eight-year-old cousin Guri, toiling intently beside her as they searched the stones for pieces of mica… If the girls spotted enough mica, they might earn 63p each for a 12-hour day. If they found none, they would probably go hungry.(Times)

They say there is a price to be paid for beauty, they just didn’t tell us that the price would have to be paid by children.  Now when you put on your silver simmer eyeshadow for that big night out, will you wonder if children forced to make that color that just makes your eyes pop?  I know I sure will!



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict