The government of Uzbekistan continues to remove millions of children across the country from school and force them to pick cotton during the harvest season. While over 70 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies related to Uzbek cotton, Forever 21 has remained silent. While Forever 21 says that it “enters into a comprehensive agreement with each of [its] suppliers and vendors under which they promise to utilize legally qualified workers,” this company has not publicly addressed the unique state-sponsored practice of forced child labor in Uzbekistan nor has it provided any information about how it ensures that its suppliers do not use Uzbek cotton tainted by these egregious human rights abuses. So far, Forever 21 has refused to support human rights and speak out against forced child labor in the cotton industry, unlike its top competitors like Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap and Levi’s.
Your actions make a difference! In the past, your e-mail actions targeting Abercrombie & Fitch, Gymboree, Carter’s and the Children’s Place have led these companies to announce policies prohibiting the use of Uzbek cotton. Take action NOW to tell Forever 21 to respect international labor rights in their cotton sourcing.
Photo credit: jpellgen
The unconscionable scale of labor rights violations in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry will continue unless clothing companies speak out against the abuse and take action to make it stop. A large number of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers, including many of your competitors like Abercrombie and Fitch, Levi’s and the Gap, have developed policies on Uzbek cotton.
So far, you have not addressed the specific problem of Uzbekistan’s state policy of forced child labor nor have you provided information about how you ensure that suppliers are prohibiting Uzbek cotton in your supply chain.
As a consumer and a concerned citizen, I ask that you take the following actions:
1) Issue a public statement condemning forced child labor and violations of labor rights in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry;
2) Commit to tracing your global cotton supply chain and instructing suppliers to stop sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan until the government ceases mobilizing children to harvest cotton;
3) Provide transparent documentation of your efforts in this area and establish a dialogue with the International Labor Rights Forum;
4) Join with other companies and industry associations that are working to ensure that worker rights are protecting in the production of cotton.
As children continue to be forced to pick cotton during harvest season, there is no better time to take action. I look forward to your urgent attention to this critical issue.