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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.

  • Building processes that work towards detecting the potential of child labourers getting involved in their supply chain.

  • Supporting programs that provide education and vocational training to children in developing countries.

  • Signing up to and being a part of the ‘International Accord Action Kit’ that raises awareness about the issue of child labour and encourages consumers to buy from brands that do not use child labour. It not only stops child labour but strives to make the working condition in the garment industry better with fair wages.

Dear conscious consumers, I implore you to expand your definitions of “sustainable fashion” to include brands that run ethically, are socially responsible, do not exploit labour in any way, and more importantly, help build a better future for all the stakeholders. As conscious consumers you can lobby for your favourite brands and prevent children from getting involved in the supply chain of fashion brands.

Close the Loop with EcoDhaga

EcoDhaga is India's first closed-loop fashion brand that focuses on giving a new life to fashion waste created by consumers. Not only do we thrift, but we also repair, restyle, donate, upcycle and recycle fabric we receive from individuals. So you're saving the planet when you shop with us, one outfit at a time!


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