Tim Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
After her fashion show at New York Fashion Week was canceled when the event organizers learned of her connection to human rights abuses, Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, decided to relocate her show. When reports first emerged that Karimova was hoping to host the fashion show for her GULI line at Cipriani's 42nd Street location, ILRF quickly posted a petition on Change.org calling on the venue to reject the show. Despite flooding Cipriani's e-mail inboxes and phone lines, the restaraunt decided to host the show. However, Gulnara Karimova was mysteriously absent from the event.
Outside the show, ILRF joined the American Federation of Teachers and human and labor rights advocates to call on Gulnara Karimova to stop forced child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton industry. In addition to being the daughter of Uzbekistan's president, Karimova is an official representative of the government as the country's representative to the UN office in Geneva and Ambassador to Spain. Every year, the government of Uzbekistan removes up to two million children from school and forces them to pick cotton to meet government-imposed production quotas. Reports are already emerging right now that young people are working in the fields as part of the current harvest.
The rally yesterday, in combination with the pressure for New York Fashion Week to cancel Karimova's show, was incredibly successful in increasing awareness about forced child labor in Uzbekistan. It's important to remember that beyond Karimova and her fashion show, there continues to be forced child labor in the production of cotton from Uzbekistan. This is a critical human rights issue that affects apparel brands around the world as the cotton ends up in the clothing we buy. All garment companies must step up to prohibit the use of cotton from Uzbekistan as long as the government relies on forced child labor and ensure that a ban on Uzbek cotton is being fully implemented.
Check out photos from the rally online here. Check out some of the top articles and reports on the rally below.
- "Uzbek dictator's daughter latest attempt to stage fashion show foiled", Guardian (UK);
- "Uzbekistan's first daughter looks for love, gets none", Associated Press -- video by AP here;
- "The Show Must Go On: Uzbek Ruler's Daughter Defies Critics With New York Fashion Show", Radio Free Europe;
- "Uzbek leader's daughter hits fashion controversy", AFP;
- "Gulnara Karimova's Show Walked Despite Protests and IMGs Cancellation", New York Magazine;
- "Uzbekistan: GooGoosha's Fashion Show Fizzles As Protestors Converge on Cipriani", Eurasianet;
- "Uzbek president's daughter to hold show despite pressure from human rights activists", Telegraph (UK);
- "Hated Dictator's Daughter's Fashion Show Swarmed By Protesters", Gothamist;
- "Protesters walk outside fashion show of Uzbek dictator's daughter" (Includes video), New York Post -- Full video report here;
- "Gulnara Karimova: Kin of tyrant readies Cipriani catwalk", Metro;
- "Activists Demand Gulnara Karimova's Fashion Show Be Shut Down", WNYC;
- "Fashion show by Uzbek leader's daughter back on, despite protests", RIA Novosti.