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Child Labour - textiles

 

Children and the carpet trade

Most carpets are machine made today, but there is still a demand for hand made carpets. The hand made carpet industry still exists in countries which have produced carpets for many years including India, Pakistan and Nepal. Much of the weaving is done by children living and working in appalling conditions.


Illegal trade

There are laws against employing children under 14 to work in the carpet industry because it can be dangerous. However the laws are difficult to enforce. However children as young as six are illegally employed in the trade because they have nimble fingers, are unable to complain and are cheap to employ. The carpets are made by knotting wool around the loom threads and cutting it with a knife, keeping all the ends the same length. A good worker does about 9 000 knots a day. Problems with eyesight, skin and lungs (because of the fluff), backs and cut fingers are common.


Recruitment

Some children are kidnapped, lured away from their homes with offers of sweets and the chance to earn money for their families. Others are forced to work because their families cannot support them and allow their children to go because they believe that they are being taught a trade. They are usually unaware of the life their children will lead. They often work for 12 hours a day for seven days a week, often without being paid and live in poor conditions without proper sleeping quarters and little to eat. The children work long hours, often ruining their sight with the fine work and they are beaten and punished for not working hard enough.


Carpet trade

Local groups in the countries affected, such as Mukti Pratishthan, are campaigning for laws to be enforced and to raise awareness of the issues in the countries in which the carpets are sold. Boycotts of the textile industry have been carried out in the past, but they have not been successful. The Rugmark label was introduced as a result of campaigning to identify carpets which had been made by adult only labour. Although the Rugmark has led to children being removed from the factories and workshops many of the children are still not able to attend school and have to earn money in other ways on the streets, on building sites or into prostitution.

 

 

 

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