Bama Athreya, President, GlobalWorks Foundation and Judy Gearhart, Executive Director, International Labor Rights Forum have co-authored an article on The Huffington Post, one of the most widely-read publications on the Internet.
Titled What We Can Do on World Day Against Child Labor (June 12) -- and we could add -- on any day -- the article has a simple request to speak up about the use of children in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan:
School's out for children across the country and we are pulling out our cool cotton T-shirts and shorts. Yesterday on World Day Against Child Labor, we might keep in mind that in some countries, when school's out, the hard labor begins - and in one notable case, it is to pick the cotton that goes into our summer clothes.
This past week, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) held hearings on forced child labor in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek government denied the problem. The ILO, however, was not convinced; its Committee on Application of Standards called for the government to accept a high level investigative mission. The Committee's decision came after a hearing earlier in the week where employers and trade unions from the US and Europe were strongly aligned in urging for an ILO monitoring mission to take a closer look after the welfare of Uzbek school children.
We all need to send messages to the Government of Uzbekistan that we won't accept cotton produced with the sweat and tears of children.
So get informed about the issue of child labor in Uzbekistan in the cotton industry by reading this web site.
Then we encourage you to send brief, politely-worded messages to the Uzbek government -- send a link (here) to Bama Athreya's and Judy Gearhart's blog from The Huffington Post.
You can write the office of President Islam Karimov or the Uzbek Foreign Ministry.
Dear President Karimov,
I am concerned about an article I have read in The Huffington Post about the plight of children in Uzbekistan who are taken from school and forced to work in dangerous conditions in the cotton fields. We urge you to comply with Uzbekistan's obligations under conventions of the International Labour Organisation to ensure that this practice cases, and call on you to accept the investigative mission of the ILO this fall during the harvest season to work toward the eradication of the worst forms of child labour.