Cotton is a commodity at the center of the global economy, yet cotton production is plagued by egregious human rights violations. While rights abuses persist in cotton production in many countries, state-led forced labor systems of cotton production remain intact in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the fifth and seventh largest exporters of cotton worldwide. The governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan use forced labor on an industry-wide scale for the benefit of government elite. Ending forced labor in the two countries would relieve hundreds of thousands of people of compulsory fieldwork each year.
Annually, the Uzbek and Turkmen governments force farmers to grow cotton and citizens to pick cotton, all under threat of penalty, including the loss of land, job loss, expulsion from school, and docked pay. In Uzbekistan, hundreds of thousands of school teachers, doctors, nurses and other citizens are victims of forced labor each year. In Turkmenistan, officials force tens of thousands of education and health-care workers, other public-sector workers and private-sector workers to work in the cotton fields each year. Both governments threaten, detain, assault and imprison citizens who attempt to report this human rights crisis. Profits from cotton sales solely benefit the government elite in these two Central Asian nations, and the forced-labor cotton ultimately ends up on retail shelves worldwide and therefore in the clothes we buy and wear.
The Cotton Campaign is working to end this injustice!
Since 2007, the Cotton Campaign has advocated with governments, companies and investors to use their leverage to end this continuous and systematic human rights violation. Our advocacy has contributed to key steps towards securing fundamental labor rights for Uzbek and Turkmen citizens:
With your support we can end forced labor!