The law needs to be improved when it comes to protecting the rights of child models, The Beijing News said in an editorial, after footage of a mother kicking her three-year-old model daughter because she did not do what the mother wanted went viral on Chinese social media.
The video has been forwarded and viewed tens of millions of times, with most netizens saying the mother had abused her child. The mother later apologized due to public pressure in a post on Sina Weibo.
Over 110 children’s clothing shops on Taobao, a leading e-commerce platform under Alibaba Group, called for society to regulate the child modeling industry and protect child models. E-commerce shops are the main users of child models, where there is fast turnover of new clothing lines.
But this mother's behavior is just the tip of the iceberg. In the child modeling industry, there is lots of shady behavior. Some firms cheat the children out of their money, or worse, take photos which could be considered abusive. The parents treat their kids as money machines, congregating in towns with children's clothing manufacturers and wholesalers so they can organize a lot of work for their children. The children are often forced out of school.
These business speculators and parents take advantage of their children and exploit them, the paper said.
Although China’s laws clearly stipulate that employers cannot recruit child labor, there is a loophole for children who perform or take part in sports, which has allowed for this level of exploitation. There must be new laws to protect children working as models, the editorial concluded.