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At the present moment, awareness is being raised about the sweatshops rented by subcontractors to make the products marketed by internationally know brands such as Nike and Gap. But there is a question that lingers in people’s minds that no one really seems to know the answer to. What is a sweatshop? A sweatshop is firstly not somewhere you would find in Britain. In Britain and many other first world countries there are strict laws that must be followed concerning working hours and conditions but in the less economically developed countries, many people are grateful if they can get a job.

The governments in these countries tend not to be as strict on working conditions as they are in Britain and the laws which are created are not followed. The main reason goods are not manufactured in places such as Great Britain is because it is cheaper abroad. The wage you pay the worker is less and also companies do not have to pay any taxes or export duties. These countries are known as trade free zones.

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In these countries you can fire any workers who ask for a raise as well as cheating workers out of wages and making them work unpaid overtime whenever you want. On top of this the governments in these countries would not interfere if you dumped toxic by-products as there are no environmental laws and they would ‘bend over backwards’ to build any roads or infrastructures that would aid a company. Ninety per cent of the factory jobs go to women and the majority of women hired are between the ages of fourteen and thirty.

The reason for this is that in the free trade zones there is immense sexism and the young women they hire are at their physical prime meaning that they can endure the hard tasks set for them the six or seven days a week in which they work. Women also get fired just for being pregnant. Some companies have been investigated for forcing their female workers to take birth control as well as making them have abortions. All companies claim to offer maternity leave as well as other benefits such as union membership but it is very rare that any of this ever takes place.

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