| ||company: Rugmark|
product: carpets and rugs against child labour
distribution: worldwide in nearly 300 stores and online retailers
intro: according to UNICEF, India has from 75 to 90 million child workers under the age of 14, though other estimates put the figure at 100 million. Put in another way, there are 75-90 million children prematurely leading adult lives. And this occurs despite the Indian Constitution's Articles 24, 39 and 45, which prohibit labour by children under 14 years of age and call for the protection of children below the age of 14 against hazardous equipment, exploitation and moral and material abandonment and guarantees them free and compulsory education.
“India is a significant exception to the global trend towards the removal of children from the labour force and the establishment of compulsory, universal, primary school education, as many countries of Africa, like Zambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Libya and Zimbabwe, with income levels lower than India, have done better in these matters.” [from The Child and the State in India, Myron Weiner, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1991]
- 75-90 million children losing their freedom to be children as they work with or without wages, in organised or informal, unorganised sectors, within or outside the family.
- 75-90 million children working under conditions damaging to their development - physical, social, emotional and spiritual.
- 75-90 million children subsidising India's economy even as their basic rights to education, health, leisure are violated.
Child labour cannot be attributed solely to population growth. This is confirmed by the fact that while "the growth of the child population is declining since 1971 and a continuation of this trend will result in a decrease of the child population for India as a whole, the interstate variation will continue to be enormous."
Kerala, for instance, has the lowest incidence of child labour and it is attributable to the fact that it has "invested in human beings, in political commitment, in radical change in the countryside, in land reform, in a strong working panchayat (children parliament).”
who: Rugmark is a global non-profit organisation working to end child labour and offer educational opportunities for children in India, Nepal and Pakistan. It does this through loom and factory monitoring, consumer labelling, and running schools for former child workers.
what: the organisation recruits carpet producers and importers to make and sell carpets that are free of illegal child labour. By agreeing to adhere to Rugmark’s strict no child labour guidelines, and by permitting random inspections of carpet looms, manufacturers receive the right to put the label on their carpets. The label provides the best possible assurance that children were not employed in the making of a rug. It also verifies that a portion of the carpet price is contributed to the rehabilitation and education of former child weavers.
The carpets are sold in Europe and North America and are promoted through offices in the US, UK and Germany. More than 2 million carpets carrying this label have been sold in Europe and North America since 1995.
facts & figures:
consumers: when you buy a certified rug or carpet, a portion of the price helps to pay for the rehabilitation and education of former child weavers, you are helping to raise awareness about the disturbing problem of child labour in the carpet industry and you are letting carpet retailers know that you will not purchase carpets made by children.
- since 1995, 1,334 children have been liberated from carpet looms by Rugmark India;
- 230 Indian exporters, representing approximately 15% of all registered carpet looms, are licensed under Rugmark;
- Rugmark Pakistan operates 3 schools and is affiliated with an additional 8, providing education to 744 children from carpet producing communities;
- approximately 75% of Pakistan’s carpet weavers are girl children under the age of 14;
- in Nepal, 188 children attended Rugmark schools in 2000;
- manufacturers representing 65% of Nepal’s carpet exports are certified by Rugmark;
- the estimated number of Nepali child weavers is 1,800.
conclusions: the proposals for a global ban come from the developed nations and focus on exports. But child labour is essentially a domestic problem, as only approximately 8% of India's child labour force is engaged in the export sector. Linking the concerns of human rights to trade can only serve the protectionist interests of the developed countries. These social clauses and blanket boycotts make no commitment to the rehabilitation of child labourers.