In the underwear department of your favorite apparel store, it may seem like a simple choice – Fruit of the Loom or Hanes. But half a world away your decision could affect whether a child goes to school, or is marched off to cotton fields and put to work.
The European Union is mulling ways to expand its textile trade with Uzbekistan, a major cotton supplier. Rights activists are lobbying hard against the ratification of EU trade measures, asserting that adoption would encourage the continuing use of forced child labor in the Central Asian nation.
In a landmark statement coming from a European official, Markus Löning, Germany’s federal commissioner for human rights, has demanded that Uzbekistan cease using child labor in harvesting cotton, and has called for inspections to be carried out by the International Organization of Labor (ILO).