Tim Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
Popular children's clothing brand Gymboree has been lagging behind the rest of the garment industry in speaking out against the use of forced child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton industry. As ILRF has reported over the years, the government of Uzbekistan removes hundreds of thousands of children from schools across the country during the harvest season and forces them to pick cotton as part of one of the most egregious state-sponsored examples of exploitation in the world.
The incredible scale of abuse has led many of the world's largest clothing brands and retailers to publicly oppose Uzbekistan's use of forced child labor. Many companies are supporting the call from Uzbek human rights advocates to boycott Uzbek cotton until the government ends its policy of forced child labor.
As a children's clothing brand, Gymboree is well placed to be a leader in ensuring that children are not exploited to produce its garments. However, the company has so far remained unresponsive to pressure from consumers to join its competitors in opposing forced child labor. Despite it's silence in response to questions about its policies on Uzbek cotton, Gymboree does want to hear your opinion... about it's new line of children's clothes. Well, if Gymboree is listening, let's tell it that their clothes would look a lot better if the company publicly opposed forced child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton industry and committed to eliminating Uzbek cotton from its supply chain until the government ends this abuse.
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