Despite international condemnation, the government of Uzbekistan is continuing to remove millions of children from schools across the country and forcing them to pick cotton during the current harvest season. Once again, the government is mandating that teachers shut down their classes and force children to meet government-imposed cotton production quotas.
While over 65 of the world's largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies related to Uzbek cotton due to the well-documented forced child labor in the country's cotton fields, one company has remained silent. In a sad twist of irony, the children's clothing store Gymboree has refused to support human rights and speak out against forced child labor in the cotton industry.
The forced labor of children will continue in Uzbekistan until companies like Gymboree refuse to support these egregious abuses. Please take action NOW to tell Gymboree to respect international labor rights in their cotton sourcing.
Your messages are making a difference! Abercrombie and Fitch has announced that it is instituting a policy of banning Uzbek cotton from its supply chain. However, the company has not provided additional information about how it ensures that this policy is effectively implemented through all of its suppliers. Let's keep up the pressure on Gymboree which continues to remain silent on forced, child labor!
- Bain Capital
Once again, millions of children across Uzbekistan are being removed from schools and forced to pick cotton. The widespread use of forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry has been well documented and the source of international condemnation. In the last few weeks alone, reports emerged that mothers with young children are being compelled to pick cotton in Kokand, a student at Guliston University was expelled for being absent when students were being made to pick cotton and young school children in Bekabad are joining others across the country in picking cotton despite their complaints that it violates child labor laws.
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. Over 65 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies on Uzbek cotton. Unfortunately, your company has not joined these critical efforts to support human rights.
As a consumer and a concerned citizen, I ask that you take the following actions:
• Issue a public statement condemning forced child labor and violations of labor rights in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry;
• 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;
• 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 right now during harvest season, there is no better time to take action. I look forward to your urgent attention to this critical issue.
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