Addressing forced labour in the garment industry

by Stephanie Klotz on Mar 09, 2016

Human rights advocates are gaining some ground in the battle against child labor. A report by the International Labor Organization revealed that the number of children forced to work for a living declined by a third between 2000 and 2013. That sizeable drop — from 246 million to 168 million globally — is in part due to a swell of public pressure against indentured child labor, particularly in the garment industry.

Okay, that's the good news.

The bad news is that the social impacts of child labor, and forced labor in general, are still felt on every continent on the planet. In fact, while the ILO lauded the gains against child labor in its 2013 report, the organization admitted it was unlikely that the world would be able to meet the established goal of eliminating the worst kind of child labor by 2016.

And it hasn't. In fact, according to a 2014 U..S. Department of Labor report, countries like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where cotton is now grown as a major revenue-producing crop, have made minimal progress in eradicating child labor from cotton fields. Similarly, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, spurred by media reports and pressure from advocacy groups, have made moderate progress in eradicating child labor from their garment factories and agricultural fields, but they still have a long way to meet ILO standards and public expectations.

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Image credit: Joerg Boethling