Where are your shirts from?
Before you make a purchase on your next apparel piece, let’s trace back to how it is made.
In 2018, Bithi was only 12 years old. She was sent to work in a harsh garment factory. Bithi is only one out of the million children being toiled away in the $284 billion textile and apparel sector. Squished in a second story room with 20 other Bangladeshi with the same fate, she does 60 pockets an hour. Every day, Bithi helps to create at least 480 pairs of pants for SGD$1.35.
When Bithi sees other girls her age in their blue and white checkered school uniforms, she admits to feeling “painful, my heart breaks.” She once had a dream for the future, to be a doctor, but she’s given up on that dream.
“Now I just dream of standing on my own feet,” she says.
Children in China under 16 years old work over 16 hours. They are forced to work 28 days a month and don’t get paid till the end of the year. Often beaten up for misbehave, children stuck in this labyrinth often do not find a way out.
Child Labour can be found in almost every industry. It can be found at all levels of the fashion industry, and nowhere is this more evident than with the production of cotton.
This is particularly evident in Uzbekistan, where government workers force children to spend the summer months picking cotton, and even threaten them with expulsion from school if they do not comply. In cotton mills in Southern India, poor girls are often enticed to work in circumstances that are virtually bonded labour where factory managers may even have hormones put in their food to stop them menstruating, as women are seen to be less productive during their menstrual period.
“Fast fashion has engendered a race to the bottom, pushing companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour,” says a UNICEF report. “That cheap labour is freely available in many of the countries where textile and garment production takes place.”
What we can do:
Companies can improve their supply chains by having policies in place to both prevent and manage child labor.
H&M is a good example. The company states on its website that it takes a “clear stand against all use of child labor and it is a minimum requirement for all factories producing for H&M.” The company continuously monitors compliance with its requirements in the factories that makes the clothes it sells. One thing H&M does to ensure compliance is work with local doctors who help auditors judge how old a worker is if they think he or she looks “particularly young.” The first time H&M finds a child employed by one of its suppliers, it works with the supplier to rectify the problem. The second time it finds a child employed by the same company, H&M stops working with the supplier.
Consumers can also play a role in ending child labour in the clothing industry. “One thing which I believe can have a strong impact is consumers questioning where their clothing comes from,” Chowdhury said.
People need to consider both where and how the clothing they buy was made. If consumers stop buying products from companies that are known to use child labour, then those companies will work to end child labour in their supply chains. Most consumers simply do not realize that their clothing purchases may sponsor child labour, but once they realize, they can use their purchasing power to bring about change.
Here at Cotton Planet, we work directly with our factory to ensure that no children are being exploited. We stand against child labour and ensure that all apparels made by us comes from ethical source. Before you make your next mass produced apparel for your company, do question where are the fabrics are from.
We provide you quality and custom made t-shirts, shirts, coveralls from ethical sources.