Monday, July 09, 2007

Child labor?

Last week, while strolling on a street in Waikiki, I saw several street performers entertaining passers by. Here is a rough estimate of number of onlookers flocking around the performers, at the time I was there:

Caricature artist - 0
Basketball man (guy performing basketball tricks) - 25
Charcoal portrait artist - 8
Golden statue dude (guy posing as a golden statue) - 10
Ukulele player - 0
Karaoke girl (girl singing pop songs on a karaoke machine) - 18
Guitar player - 0
At first glance, everything seems in balance. Not a lot of general public cares for a guy playing the ukulele or shredding the guitar on the streets. These need very specific audience. Same goes true for the caricature artist.
The charcoal dude was doing an awesome job, and hence people were flocking to watch him work (many were waiting their turn). The basketball man was attracting a huge crowd by yapping a lot (and doing a few real cool tricks).
What struck me was the fact that people were watching a young girl (maybe 8-10 yrs old) singing while her parents were sitting around and collecting money (pic above). This, for me, is child labor. We talk a lot about what happens in China and other countries, and here we were, encouraging a little girl (and her parents) to sing for us. The girl should have been playing with her friends in the beach on that pleasant evening. Instead, she was 'working' for her parents. What a pity.

BTW, I just took a few pics and walked away as soon as possible. I, for one, did not want to encourage this.