By Mitch Ellmauer, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum
Carter’s Inc. is lagging behind the clothing retail industry in speaking out against the use of forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. The irony is that Carter’s business is primarily a manufacturer of children’s apparel and its success has been built atop its two famous children’s brands: Carter’s and Oshkosh B’Gosh.
Uzbekistan is one of the largest cotton producing countries in the world and it is also well known for its authoritarian government, human rights violations, and exploitative labor practices in its cotton industry. Every harvest, the government closes schools and sends millions of children to the fields to pick cotton. Children are expected to work from sun up to sun set during the cotton harvest seasons. Older children live on the fields in makeshift barracks without electricity, sanitary facilities, clean water, or steady supplies of food. The children are subject to beating and abuse if they do not meet their quotas.
The government makes about a billion dollars in profit by exporting cotton; most of that money goes directly to the pockets of Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov and his close allies. The children, on the other hand, are lucky to make any money at all from their labor. They are only paid about a dollar a day and their wages are often stolen by corrupt officials.
These abuses are well documented and known to everyone in the garment industry. Many of the world’s largest clothing brands have publicly condemned Uzbekistan’s use of child labor and are working to ensure that the cotton in their products are not made using cotton tainted by forced child labor in Uzbekistan.
Carter’s, however, does not provide any sort of information about its cotton sourcing procedures and its policies specific to cotton from Uzbekistan.
Join us in telling Carter’s to stop using Uzbek cotton sign our petition. Your efforts in the past have successfully convinced Abercrombie and Fitch, the Children's Place and Gymboree, among other companies, to take action to stop forced child labor in Uzbekistan. Help us to encourage Carter's to join it competitors.