Textile and apparel industries still using child labor

Thirty countries have been singled out for using child labor in the cotton, textile, leather and apparel industries. Once again, Uzbekistan was strongly criticized for its cotton harvest policies, which involves the recruitment of school-age students.

Redflag Campaign from the ILO against child labor, with actor Tim Roth

Cotton cultivation is one of the textile industry’s main activities to use a large number of child laborers. Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Mali, Paraguay, Turkey and Zambia are also reportedly using under-age workers. Other countries guilty of both child labor abuse and forced labor are: Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, China, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

In the textile industry, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Nepal are accused of using child labor, while North Korea reportedly uses forced labor. In the leather industry, only Bangladesh, India and Pakistan were mentioned for using children as workers. In the footwear industry, Bangladesh was again cited for putting children to work along with Brazil, India, Indonesia and China.

In both the textile and leather, besides the abusive practice of child labor itself, these industries are also jeopardizing the health of these minors. Protection against chemical agents is often nonexistent. While many other industries have also been singled out, the textile industry is a major force in the lives of the some 168 million children forced to work, essentially 11% of the world's child population.

"We moving in the right direction," said the International Labour Organization with cautious optimism. "Since 2000, there were almost 78 million fewer child laborers at the end of this period than at the beginning, a reduction of almost a third. The fall in girls in child labor was particularly pronounced – in the period 2000-2012 there was a reduction of 40 per cent in the number of girls child laborers as compared to 25 per cent for boys."

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