Cotton production in Uzbekistan is one of the most exploitative enterprises in the world, an Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) investigation has revealed.
Human rights advocates have criticised the Uzbek cotton industry for its reliance on forced-labour including the mandatory employment of school children, college and university students, and civil servants. Investigations by the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) and the EJF have found that workers face terrible conditions and are barely paid enough to survive.
EJF estimates that more than 1 million children worked in the 2009 harvest, receiving little or no reimbursement for their arduous labour. In October 2010, the ILRF shared reports that Uzbek teachers have been beaten and humiliated, and that several villages had their electricity supplies cut after failing to meet their harvest quotas.
Uzbekistan is the world’s 3rd largest cotton exporter, however the country’s shocking labour rights record has prompted several international retailers to review the use of Uzbek cotton in their supply chains.