By Myrlia Purcell on
Actress and Executive Producer Eva Longoria-Parker spoke out in support of child labor rights last week, shedding light on an issue affecting children and families across the United States.
The Desperate Housewives star is Executive Producer on a new documentary entitled, “The Harvest/La Cosecha,” which followed five families across the country for two years, recording the experiences and thoughts of the children and parents working to feed not just themselves, but families across America.
Longoria, who grew up on a farm in Texas, believes that no child should have to choose between putting food on the table and getting a proper education.
“Every time you eat a salad, every time you eat a vegetable, you have to think that this might have been picked by a child,” Longoria told a press conference campaigning for a reform of child labor laws. “The children who feed the most well-fed nation in the world go to bed hungry.”
The documentary reveals that there are roughly 400,000 child workers who pick more than a quarter of the country’s produce, many of the children are US citizens or legal residents.
“The United States is a Third World country where agriculture is concerned,” said director Robin Romano.
Eva and her husband, Tony Parker hosted a cocktail reception with special guest Bill Clinton in July, where a trailer of the film was screened. At the event, Longoria-Parker said that children as young as 8 are out working in the fields. These children are left too tired to focus on school work, and often drop out before the age of 16. Current U.S. labor laws prevent them from working at McDonald’s, but not in the farming industry.
The fact that so many hundreds of thousands of children are working 14-hour days without protection has spurred some congressional representatives to take action.
“As schools opened in the past few weeks, sadly absent from the classroom were thousands of children who remain working in the field,” said Democratic lawmaker Lucille Roybal-Allard. “Most of these children will start the academic year late and continue to work long hours, leaving them little time or energy to do their homework.”
For nine years, she has sought congressional action on her Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act). Only 105 representatives have supported it so far, leaving it far short of the 216-member majority needed to pass the bill.
Roybal-Allard’s says that her struggles to find support stem from the fact that children are used as a source of “cheap labor” by the farming industry, and she wants Americans to become aware of some of the current regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):
- U.S. Children aged 12 – and sometimes younger – can work harvesting fruits and vegetables under harsh conditions.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that the minimum age for particularly hazardous work in agriculture is 16, two years younger than in all other sectors of the economy.
- Children younger than 12 can work on small farms.
- The normal minimum age for employment in agriculture is 14, working outside of school hours. The age for all other industries is 16.
Photos copyright Greenwich Diva.
Copyright © 2010 Look to the Stars
Source: Shine Global