Cheap clothing comes at a cost: some of the clothes we wear are manufactured by children who suffer difficult working conditions. Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Lesotho, Morocco, the Philippines, Portugal and Thailand are among the countries in which children are believed to help produce garments.

Victoria’s Secret Revealed in Child Picking Burkina Faso Cotton

By Cam Simpson – Dec 15, 2011

Clarisse Kambire’s nightmare rarely changes. It’s daytime. In a field of cotton plants that burst with purple and white flowers, a man in rags towers over her, a stick raised above his head. Then a voice booms, jerking Clarisse from her slumber and making her heart leap. “Get up!”

The man ordering her awake is the same one who haunts the 13-year-old girl’s sleep: Victorien Kamboule, the farmer she labors for in a West African cotton field. Before sunrise on a November morning she rises from the faded plastic mat that serves as her mattress, barely thicker than the cover of a glossy magazine, opens the metal door of her mud hut and sets her almond-shaped eyes on the first day of this season’s harvest. (Follow her journey in videos, photos and more here.)

She had been dreading it. “I’m starting to think about how he will shout at me and beat me again,” she said two days earlier. Preparing the field was even worse. Clarisse helped dig more than 500 rows with only her muscles and a hoe, substituting for the ox and the plow the farmer can’t afford. If she’s slow, Kamboule whips her with a tree branch.

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Uzbekistan: EU Parliamentarians Reject Textile Deal With Uzbekistan

October 5, 2011 – 3:06pm, by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick [Source: EurasiaNet.org]

European Union parliamentarians have rejected a trade deal that would have eased Uzbekistan’s export of textiles to Europe, citing the use of forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry, Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe reported.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted unanimously against the inclusion of textiles in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the pact that has governed EU-Uzbek trade since 1999. The vote prevented a lowering of tariffs on EU imports of Uzbek cotton, which make up at least 25 percent of Uzbekistan’s exports.

The language of the legislation now stipulates that the inclusion of textiles “should only be put to the vote by Parliament after international observers, and in particular the International Labor Organization (ILO), have been granted by the Uzbek authorities close and unhindered monitoring.”

The Uzbek government has failed to invite the ILO to inspect cotton fields during the harvest season, despite calls from employers and unions at the ILO annual meeting as well as human rights groups.

In February, the European Council approved an amendment to the PCA, extending the customs and tariffs breaks to Tashkent. But the European Parliament had yet to approve it, and it still had to go through committees.

EU members of parliament became concerned about increasing reports of the exploitation of children in the cotton harvest. A coalition of international labor and human rights organizations, joined with Uzbek human rights groups working both inside the country and in exile, have been advocating for some years with MEPs to try to stop forced child labor, especially after Uzbekistan ratified the ILO convention against the worst forms of child labor in 2009.

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Child slavery bust in Vietnam


[from AFP, September 30, 2011 4:52PM]

TWENTY three children and young adults rescued from slave labour in a garment factory by Vietnamese authorities with the help of an Australian-run children’s charity have arrived in Hanoi.

Vietnamese government officials and police from the victims’ home region, with help from the charity Blue Dragon, raided the factory in Ho Chi Minh City. The owners have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

The victims, aged from ten to 21, are from the Kho Mu ethnic group, in Dien Bien province in Vietnam’s far northwest. Some of them had been working for up to two years as slave labour in the garment business.

Tired but happy, the children relaxed for an hour at Noi Bai airport before boarding a bus for the 12-hour journey home to their villages.

The group are told AAP they were looking forward to returning to their families.

“I felt so homesick, living in Saigon,” said 12-year-old Trang.
He was taken by car from his small village of 35 households and brought to Saigon, where he worked cutting cloth and was regularly beaten, he said.

He couldn’t estimate how many hours he worked as he can’t read a clock.

Gazing fixedly at his can of Fanta, he said he wanted to get home to his parents and six younger brothers and family farm.

Ta Ngoc Van, a lawyer with Blue Dragon, travelled to the remote villages of Da Lech and Co Nghiu some weeks ago following up a tip from a contact in the Ministry of Public Security about rumours of missing children.… Read the rest

Advocates Protest Uzbekistan’s Use of Forced Child Labor


It’s not every day that you get your message through to one of the world’s most notorious dictators, but some of us in the child labor advocacy community think we may have just done that last week during New York City’s Fashion Week.

For several years, the Child Labor Coalition, 28 organizations working to end the labor exploitation of children around the world, has been deeply concerned about the forced use of child labor in Uzbekistan, where Islam Karimov has ruled with an iron fist for 21 years. Each fall, Uzbek school children and their teachers are forced to leave their classrooms and perform arduous hand-harvesting of cotton for up to two months. The children—estimates of their numbers range from several hundred thousand to almost two million—receive little or no pay and often perform this back-breaking work from young childhood and through college. The workers are charged for shelter and food and by the time those expenses are deducted their compensation is so small it would be fair to say they worked for little or no pay or “slave wages.” The profits of this labor tend to flow to Uzbekistan’s ruling elite. Unlike child labor in most countries, Uzbekistan’s occurs as a result of national policy filtered down to local government authorities.

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