19 August 2011


Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest cotton producers and exporters. For decades it has used forced labour of schoolchildren, college and university students to harvest cotton by hand. Each year over one million children as young as nine-years-old are sent out to work in the fields

In 2004 local activists began a campaign to call on the world to boycott cotton harvested in Uzbekistan until the use of forced child labour was ended. International brands and retailers including Tesco, Walmart, LeviStrauss, Gap, Limited Brands, NIKE and Marks and Spencer agreed to ban Uzbek cotton from their supply chains.

In Australia STOP THE TRAFFIK initiated a letter-writing campaign in urging major retailers Target, Kmart and Cotton On to ensure that Uzbekistan cotton is not used in products which they sell.

In response Kmart has announced that it will start to take steps to exclude cotton from Uzbekistan from its products while forced child labour is used to harvest the cotton. Their statement reads in part "In the event that Uzbekistan cotton is detected, we will take all necessary steps to ensure its use is stopped immediately."

While this commitment has been welcomed, it is believed that it needs to go further. The campaign is now asking Kmart to inform their suppliers of cotton products and obtain assurances that Uzbekistan cotton is not being used in any cotton products Kmart sells.

For information about the ongoing campaign to obtain an effective response from Kmart visit the Just Act website.

More background information about this issue can also be found here

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