The rights of ev­ery child GoodWeave aims to end child la­bor

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

use our wal­lets to make all kinds of po­lit­i­cal state­ments. Peo­ple com­mit to buy­ing only non-GMO food, fair­trade cof­fee, or free-range eggs. But do we know where our rugs come from? When we buy a tra­di­tional rug, or some other folk art item, how do we know whether or not some­one has been forced to make the de­light­ful item we are ac­quir­ing?

Robin Gray, the owner of Robin Gray De­sign, a Santa Fe com­pany that spe­cial­izes in cus­tom and ready-made car­pets, be­lieves that peo­ple should care about whether their rugs are made eth­i­cally or not. An ar­chi­tect and a weaver, Gray said that while in the past, she had been aware of the prob­lem of child la­bor in In­dia, she had not re­al­ized that it was a se­ri­ous prob­lem in the rug in­dus­try. “It wasn’t un­til I met some­one who had worked in the busi­ness for some time that I be­came aware of it, and of GoodWeave,” she said. “After find­ing out what they were about, I joined the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Now we are work­ing in other ar­eas where child la­bor is an is­sue, not just in the rug in­dus­try.”

GoodWeave was founded over two decades ago to ad­vo­cate for so­cial change with the goal of end­ing child la­bor, forced la­bor, and bonded la­bor in global sup­ply chains. As In­dian ac­tivist Kailash Sat­yarthi tells it, the or­ga­ni­za­tion was formed after an in­ci­dent in the early 1990s. At the time, Sat­yarthi was speak­ing on live tele­vi­sion about the scourge of child la­bor in South Asia’s car­pet in­dus­try, and an el­derly Ger­man woman called in and promised to throw out her car­pet — but she also chal­lenged him to do some­thing so she could buy a new car­pet. En­ter GoodWeave. Sat­yarthi would go on to win the No­bel Peace Prize in 2014 for his ini­tia­tives to stop child la­bor.

“The GoodWeave logo is on all my ad­ver­tis­ing, and the GoodWeave la­bel goes on all of my rugs, along with a num­ber which means you can trace that rug back to where it was wo­ven and by whom,” said Gray, who is the only li­censed GoodWeave im­porter in Santa Fe — and in New Mex­ico. Tar­get and Macy’s stores also carry GoodWeave cer­ti­fied rugs, along with out-of-state com­pa­nies such as Shivhon Rugs in Los An­ge­les. Gray added that there are other la­bels a cus­tomer can look for, such as Step. “But in my opin­ion, the GoodWeave la­bel is the only one that re­ally en­sures there was no child la­bor in­volved. We are also work­ing on fair and safe prac­tices in the weav­ing fa­cil­i­ties.”

A 2014 Har­vard Univer­sity FXB Cen­ter for Health and Hu­man Rights study found child la­bor to be a chronic prob­lem in In­dia’s ru­ral ar­eas. The Har­vard Study, the largest-ever in­ves­ti­ga­tion into slav­ery and child la­bor in the man­u­fac­ture of In­dian hand­made car­pets (of which In­dia is the world’s largest ex­porter), found 45 per­cent “in­dus­try preva­lence” of forced la­bor, some­times in con­di­tions so filthy and dan­ger­ous that re­searchers re­fused to en­ter cer­tain sites, fear­ing for their health and safety.

The au­thor of the Har­vard study, Sid­dharth Kara, is the di­rec­tor of the Pro­gram on Hu­man Traf­fick­ing and Mod­ern Slav­ery at the Har­vard Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. When Kara’s re­searchers sought to talk to fac­tory work­ers, it was not un­usual for them to be sub­jected to ha­rass­ment from se­cu­rity guards. The study quotes one fif­teen-year-old fe­male weaver

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