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.
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
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
backs and cut fingers are common.
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
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
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.
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
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
ways on the streets, on building sites or into prostitution.