By Humphrey HawksleyBBC News, Gujarat
Civil rights activist Jignesh Mevani describes the conditions endured by India’s child cotton workers
The noise was deafening and air in the factory in northern Gujarat was so thick with cotton dust it was like a snowstorm at night.
Women and girls, some no more than 10 or 11, fed machines with raw cotton picked from the nearby fields.
It is a process known as ginning – one end of a commercial supply chain that ends up as clothes and textiles in high street shops around the world. Globally, annual revenues from the industry are measured in the trillions of dollars.
Many household-name retailers concede they do not know exactly how the cotton they use is farmed and processed. Yet, for years, labour activists here have campaigned for their help.
“The workers’ lives are terrible,” said Jignesh Mevani, an activist who was our guide. “They are not paid the minimum wage. There are no safety precautions. There are many children.” Read more