Wednesday, 6 February 2008

"The Children Behind Our Cotton" - report on child labour by the Environmental Justice Foundation

With all the positive news about new ethical fashion trends, one sometimes forgets to also stay aware about the negative sides of clothing production. In December the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) published a new report on child labour in the clothing industry, focusing on cotton production.

According to the report, six of the world’s top seven cotton producers have been reported to use children in the field. The EJF states that the conditions child labourers endure in helping to produce the cotton products sold on international markets are often brutal. "They may be subjected to beatings, threats of violence and overwork. Shocking cases of sexual harassment and abuse of girls have been reported in some major cotton-producing countries. Many children in the cotton fields are exposed to what is termed hazardouschild labour, which can result in them being killed, injured or made ill as a result of their work."

You can download the whole report for free from the EJF resources page.

Fashion campaign
The Environmental Justice Foundation has been lately in the fashion spots because of their T-shirt campaign to clean up cotton production. The campaign visited Fashion weeks in London, Paris, and now Berlin, and gained attention with famous models and designer names including Katharine Hamnett and Christian Lacroix.

Environment & human rights
We have been in contact with the EJF a few times and now met them on the Premium Exhibition in Berlin. The London based Foundation operates it's campaigns with a small team, and often cooperates with larger organizations such as Greenpeace. The EJF makes a direct link between the need for environmental security and the defence of basic human rights. And in the case of cotton production this is really needed, because the effects for humans and environment are very interrelated. Fair trade cotton that is not produced organic, that's kind of impossible...

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