This seemed like an impossibility at one time, as Karimova was here last year and backed by powerful Fashion Week sponsor Mercedes Benz. Yet the organizers responded to the pleas of the cotton campaign and disinvited this symbol of Uzbek repression.
There's much more we need to do to raise awareness and get action to stop the sourcing of Uzbek cotton by Western companies that help prop up Uzbekistan's dictatorship.
During Fashion Week (September 8-15), if you live in the New York area, you can take part in a picket in New York to urge the apparels industry to pledge to refrain from sourcing their cotton in Uzbekistan.
You can also call on Cipriani, the events space where Uzbek dictator's daughter Gulnara Karimova is now rescheduling her disgraced fashion show, not to provide her a space either. (Cotton campaign protests have been successful in getting IMG, the organizers of Fashion Week, to cancel her show at Lincoln Center).
Already 60 brands and a major industry association have pledged not to source cotton in Uzbekistan as forced child labour is used there, thanks to the work of Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN). The International Labor Rights Forum (ILHR) has already successfully petitioned Gymborree, A Child's Place and other companies recently who have responded to thousands of signatures and changed their policies.
Campaigners are looking for more signatures for new campaigns now addressing these brands:
o Forever 21
o Urban Outfitters
o Toys 'R Us
If you're a parent of children or teenagers like me, you know at this back-to-school time these are exactly the shops that your kids go to for clothes, accessories and toys. So sign the petition and tell your children that kids just their age are forced to miss school and work in the cotton fields. If you have a teen aged 13 or older, they can help raise awareness and sign these petitions as well at Change.org (you must be 13 or older to use this site) -- it's a great way to help young people understand the connected world they live in. High schools often ask students to find a community service project to work on -- learning about forced child labour and signing these petitions to the companies where they shop could be just such a project.