THE COTTON YOU’RE WEARING COULD BE PICKED BY FORCED LABOR
Many are familiar with the issues in thesweatshops of Bangladesh and India, however, the forced labor controversy surrounding cotton production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is not widely as known.
Much of the cotton we use every day is produced under Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan governments’ direction. In Uzbekistan, children and adults are forced out into the fields to harvest crops in a hazardous and unsanitary environment. The governments are solely in charge of buying and selling all obtained cotton, and gain massive financial gains while those subject to the forced labor gain little to nothing.
Each year, the government sets an annual quota that farmers and even teachers, nurses, doctors, and local administration employees must meet. Those who do not comply will be punished, humiliated, and/or lose leased properties. Non-farmers have to leave their jobs during the harvest season and to work long hours and sleep in barracks in poor conditions.
While Uzbekistan is making progress by working with the International Labor Organization to reduce forced labor, Turkmenistan shows no signs of change. The number of children forced to pick cotton during these annual cotton harvests has decreased since 2012, but that number has yet to reach zero.
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