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Lara Smallman
Campaigner, film-maker, blogger (London, United Kingdom)

Self-taught film-maker interested in exploring human rights issues. See more on


Can we forgive ourselves?

Published 09th April 2010 - 5 comments - 3249 views -

Never mind future generations judging (and probably resenting) us, what about our own conscience? - A question I've been pondering on most of today...

Should we act out of guilt or duty? Who cares as long as we act - you might say... 

Only yesterday I found myself once again having the age old 'Primark debate.' Proven to have used child labour to produce their oh-so cheap clothes, Primark has faced more than its fair share of criticism in recent years. The question is, should we buy there because workers at least have an income, surely better than nothing. (I'd say 'no', but if Primark's sales figures are anything to go by, it's clear many wouldn't agree with me). So just how do you persuade an addict to relinquish their beloved Primark bargains? Tell them about the exploitation, tell them that the company scored the lowest of all leading clothing chains in the UK (just 3.5 out of 20) on an ethical index that ranks workers' rights and whether they do business with oppressive regimes - in other words educate them. If all else fails, guilt trip them? I've tried it (purely out of investigative curiosity, of course). 

I didn't buy anything in end because the queue was too long, one friend said to me, almost embarrassed at having set foot in there to begin with. That statement, if a little amusing, did sum up what is essentially a very serious problem. People know they're doing the wrong thing, and yet they are still doing it. Just as Jodi wrote, we've got no excuse for pleading ignorance on this one.   

So when education and or guilt fail, what next? Any ideas?

Category: Education | Tags:


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 10th April 2010:

    Lara, interesting thoughts. My take: As long as we struggle to improve our lives and the society that we live in in every little thing we do, it means we’re doing something.

  • Aija Vanaga on 12th April 2010:

    Interesting way to put it. To ignore and to loose income for workers of company or still keep on buying?
    I somehow feel that it depends on reaction of company, was it an accident? Or we are going to do that forever..

  • Lara Smallman on 12th April 2010:

    It was no accident. Their low prices are based on paying the lowest amount possible, they are very aware of it. They’ll only change their bad habits if consumers send out a strong message that they don’t like it, which has yet to happen…

  • Lara Smallman on 12th April 2010:

    *lowest amount possible to the workers

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