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The Hands that Make your Clothes - A Look at Child Labour in the Fashion Space

The International Day against Child Labour falls on June 12 and is designated to raise awareness about the issue of child labour. In addition, it celebrates the achievements of organizations and individuals working to end Child Labour globally.

Shouldn’t these Children deserve a chance to weave a better future?

Child labour is the exploitation of children (under the age of 14) by businesses or governments to do hazardous work often in difficult circumstances and without pay parity. Industries that use child labour for their operations include mining, garment factories, firecracker or incense manufacturers or as farm labourers.

According to the International Labour Organisation, there are about 168 million child labourers worldwide. In India, it is estimated that there are over 60 million child labourers.

Child labour is a significant problem, specially in a society like India, because it deprives children of their childhood, education, and health and pepetuates their poverty. It also puts them at risk of injury or death. People who enlist child labourers might believe that children are cheaper or more compliant workers than adults or they may think that children cannot unionise or complain about working conditions. Honestly, it should be termed "child exploitation" and not merely "child labour".

Child Endangerment at Garment Factories

Did you know that child labour is also prevalent in the fashion and textile industry? These children who are employed in textile and garment factories are often:

  • Exposed to hazardous materials and chemicals

  • Worked long hours with little or no rest (overtime pay is not even a concept with children)

  • End up injured by machinery which dramatically impairs their future.

How can fashion brands and retailers stop child labour?

There are several ways that fashion brands and retailers can stop child labour such as:

  • Ensuring that their supply chains are free of child labour by auditing factories and complying with local labour laws.