Child slavery: the half-truth

`Children hate school. They'd much rather be working'

"WE AT the Child Slavery Support Group take child slavery seriously," says Herman Woodlife, head of the Child Slavery Support Group. "For a start, and this may surprise you, we are all in favour of child slavery."

Many groups in the world are doing something to combat child exploitation and slavery, but it is safe to say that this is the only one that is actively promoting it.

"Don't get me wrong," says Herman Woodlife, with the air of one who is used to being got wrong. "All we are trying to say is that what people call child slavery is often child labour, or giving children a job, and what is wrong with that?"

Well, for a start, it means taking jobs from adults. And it means taking childhood away from children.

"Absolute poppycock!" says Herman Woodlife. "It's about time we nailed this myth that children, given the choice, would wander the woods gathering wild flowers, or go folk dancing, or learn French. Children would rather sit at a computer, watch TV, play mothers and fathers or fight each other. In other words, do exactly what grown-ups do, and what they call work. You know, I'm not entirely convinced that there is such a thing as childhood."

Then where does the myth of childhood come from?

"God knows," sighs Herman Woodlife. "There was never any fuss in previous ages about children working. Well, there was a certain amount of fuss about the conditions - but not about the principle itself. Why should it be different today?"

Well, maybe because children should be given a chance to have an education ...

"Poppycock!" says Herman Woodlife. "Have you ever been to a school? Have you watched children being educated? They hate it! They think of it as real slavery! They'd much rather be working. If you want to liberate children, liberate them from school, not the workplace! At least they're earning money at work. In school, they're just wasting money."

The slogans roll off Herman Woodlife's lips as if well rehearsed. There is a certain persuasive half-truth about his words. But if you half-believe what he says, you have to half-believe that school is a waste of time. Or at least a half-waste of time.

"But of course it is!" asseverates Herman Woodlife. "Most of what we learn we either forget or never use. All those years spent learning French or Shakespeare or the Bible or the basic geography of Nigeria - all a waste of time! Unless you are the kind of person who goes in for pub quizzes. The kinds of thing you should be learning at school are those which help prepare you for the workplace, for life. Do we learn at school about mortgages? Civil engineering? Money management? Industrial reality? I think not. Where do you learn this sort of thing? From your mates at work. So children who start working at 10 are going to be 10 years ahead of other children! That is why we support Child Slavery, so-called. Child Pride, we like to call it. You know, many children who have been working - with our support - often tell us in later life how grateful they are that they got such a practical start. Especially those who went on to university, and didn't arrive green behind the ears."

But is working in some East End or Pakistani sweatshop, turning out cheap soccer shirts, really a practical start in life?

"Sure," says Herman Woodlife. "Do you think playing Tomb Raider II on a computer, like some pampered middle-class kid, is a practical start? I was watching a film about the late Gianni Versace the other day, and do you know, the thing that he always regretted, was not having a practical background in sewing and tailoring. Our kids have got a great start in life if they want to be a superstar."

Our kids?

"Our kids turning out cheap sportswear in the Far East."

So the Child Slavery Support Group is just a front for the sportswear Mafia?

"Certainly not!" says Herman Woodlife, shocked. "We exist to redress a balance. You have heard the case against child slavery.But have you heard the case for child slavery, argued humanely and sensitively? I fear not. That is why we are here."

Do you want to know more about the work of the Child Slavery Support Group? Send an SAE to Junior Workforce Dept, Soccer Sportswear House, London.

Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform