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Child labor in cotton attracts widespread opposition
Jan '08
The issue of child exploitation in Uzbekistan cotton sector has been going on for quite some time now. Protestation against this open and blatant victimization has become widespread to the extent that civil society activists had called for an immediate boycott of Uzbek cotton produced by forced child labor.

While child labor in other countries exists illegally threatened by severe penalties that may be imposed by the Government, in case of Uzbekistan it is just the opposite.

Every year, from September, all the schools across the country are kept close for over two months during which students are forced to pick cotton from the fields. Opposing to work in the fields may result in expulsion from the educational institutes. Unfortunately, the policy comes from none other than the Government itself.

Children end up working for more than eight hours without even taking rest for days. Besides, they are made vulnerable to inhaling dust laden with residues of chemicals, pesticides and defoliants.

It is only the small elites that who benefit immensely from trading cotton in the international market, the poor children are not even paid adequately. In fact, the paltry wages given are just as good as being considered nil.

The only way put a halt to this massive exploitation, is to strip the Uzbek exporters of their undeserving profits. Human rights activists have urged the European and World bank to grant any financial aid to Uzbek cotton sector projects until reformative policies are undertaken by the Government to change the present situation.

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