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US bars Tajik cotton, despite ban on child labour
Jul '10
Although, President, Emomali Rahmon's prohibition continues in Tajikistan for the use of child labour to pick cotton, US put a ban on Tajik cotton.

The ban from US has come forth, despite the fact that, Tajik ministries too, have banned child labour, for instance, the Education Ministry itself has forbidden schools from sending children to pick cotton during the harvest season.

Tajik President and ministries decided to ban child labour, following US Labour Department's announcement on July 19, which included cotton, produced by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in the list of goods that were manufactured utilising children as labourers.

For supporting their decision on banning Tajik cotton, an official from the US embassy in Dushanbe informed that, they had reports, which revealed that certain officials in the Sughd and Khatlon Oblast areas threatened and forced children to work in the cotton fields during the harvest season of 2009.

For a nation like Tajikistan, which suffers from dearth of funds, cotton is the second biggest export product after aluminium. During the last periods of the Soviet era, Tajik used to manufacture around 1 million tons of cotton on a yearly basis.

However, during the last two decades, cotton industry has been undergoing tremendous crisis and presently, Tajik manufactures only a-third of the cotton that it used to produce when it was a part of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

A human rights activist from Northern Sughd province informed that, although officially, use of child labour in the cotton industry has been banned by the Tajik government, and schools no longer remain shut during the harvest period, unlike neighbouring country Uzbekistan; teachers were still seen sending children to fields, to 'help farmers' during the harvest period, owing to pressure from domestic authorities.

Currently, the extent to which US decision will affect Tajik's cotton industry still remains a big question. According to a former minister from the Soviet era, Tajikistan had never shipped cotton to US. The main buyers of Tajik cotton were European nations like, Iran, Uzbekistan and Russia.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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