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"Meet my 9 year old boss" child labor story

A Toronto Star reporter went undercover in a Bangladesh sweatshop and ended up focusing her piece on the distressing story of Meem, the 9 year old who supervised her work for three days. Evidently it is increasingly difficult for reporters to get into these spaces because the horror stories have made owners more cautious. Apart from the heartbreak that this amazingly little girl is not getting an education, I was impressed that the reporter managed to show the human vulnerability of everyone involved. For example, it would have been easy to make the father and the yelling owner monsters, but the details show how trapped they are in the system. But Meem's sensitivity to others is something the rest of us could learn from:

If Meem noticed someone was trimming slowly, she would quickly do her share and then help out. When she returned from lunch, she would always bring back something for Taaniya, even if it was a bruised apple. When Sheekha admired her hair clips, Meem took them from her hair and pressed them into her hands.


Once she saw Lootfah burst into tears while talking on her cellphone and she slipped out and bought a shiny hair clip for her.

Meem was particularly good to me.

She told me to give her everything I trimmed and not put it in the done pile. I didn’t understand until it dawned on me that I wasn’t any good at my job. I was clumsy and I nipped at least twice. She “checked” so that I didn’t get into any trouble with Ali. She knew I was on trial at the sweatshop and if I didn’t trim the threads well, I would not last long.

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