The Bureau of International Labor Affairs at the Department of Labor recently announced a $2 million solicitation to fund an extensive program aimed at reducing child labor in the home production of Afghan rugs.
Qualifying organizations will be awarded funding to promote efforts to reduce the worst forms of child labor in Afghanistan’s production of hand-woven carpets. Organizations will partner with one or more companies that source carpets from home-based rug suppliers. The project will help participants develop a social compliance system for carpet supply chains, along with the establishment of a team of independent inspectors to ensure compliance with child labor standards.
For children who weave rugs in home-based workplaces, the project will offer remediation services to enable their withdrawal. In addition to achieving social compliance, this effort will be collecting more consistent data on child labor in the carpet industries of Afghanistan, while educating the public about the dangers and injustice of child labor in home-based production sectors.
Children who work in the carpet-production can start as young as six or seven years old, and many work upwards of 12 hours a day. They are common victims of work injury or occupational disease, experiencing a wide range of hazards and poor working conditions. Some of the most common risks come from exposure to dust and toxic fumes, which can lead to respiratory diseases. Workers Compensation Lawyers in the U.S. point out that such conditions would be considered appalling if we subjected American children to them, and yet there is little awareness of how widespread they are in other parts of the world. Indeed, Americans are among the largest consumer of these child-produced products, but know little about the hazards children face in producing those goods.