Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

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Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby Penta » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:38 pm

... and the children are being forced out into the fields again.

Uzbek cotton fields still using child labour

By Rustam Qobil
BBC Uzbek Service


This girl is one of many who have been bussed in to pick cotton

Cotton is big business in Uzbekistan, and a vital source of hard currency in a country which is chronically underdeveloped and where many live below the poverty line.
But last year some Western clothes retailers threatened to boycott Uzbekistan - one of the world's leading cotton producers - if it did not stop using schoolchildren to pick this vital harvest.
As a result, the Uzbeks officially banned the use of child labour, but they now seem to have reneged on their promise, with children as young as 11 or 12 working in the fields.
"Everybody is out in the cotton fields, including schoolchildren," one woman told the BBC by phone - the BBC is not allowed to report on the ground in Uzbekistan.
The woman, who did not want to give her name, said the streets and markets in her area were almost empty because everyone was in the fields.

My daughter is anaemic and has been taken to a cotton-growing area far away with her college
Uzbek mother
According to other residents, streets are festooned with slogans dating back to the Soviet era calling on everyone to help with the harvest. Government activists with loudspeakers are driving around reminding people to do their bit.
It appears that many children have little choice but to heed these calls.


Children as young as 11 have been taken from school to pick cotton
"My daughter is anaemic and has been taken to a cotton-growing area far away with her college. I couldn't do anything," one mother from a rural area in central Uzbekistan said.
"I myself am disabled and my husband works in Russia. I can't visit her and don't know how she is now."
"Fourteen- and 15-year-old school pupils have been taken to the cotton fields," added Bakhtiyar Hamrayev, a human rights activist, describing the situation in the central Jizzakh region.
"In rural areas, children as young as 11 or 12 have been forced to leave their classrooms and help to pick cotton in nearby farms."
There is immense pressure on families to ensure their children take part in the harvest, and most people are afraid to resist.

Conditions are dire. There is no central heating, no showers and no clean drinking water
Uzbek human rights activist
Schools and colleges are also under pressure to support the harvest, and Bakhtiyar Hamrayev says this sometimes leads to them taking tough measures against children whose parents try to keep them at home.
"In one recent example, a boy fell ill and went to see the doctor," he said. "By the time he brought back the doctor's certificate, his teachers had informed the parents he'd been expelled."
Dire conditions
Campaigners are also very concerned about living standards for children who work in the fields.
"There is no central heating, no showers and no clean drinking water," one activist said. "Children bring their own mattresses because there are no beds at all."
Bakhtiyar Hamrayev, who has visited several cotton growing areas in the Jizzakh region, says that children are exposed to considerable health risks.
"In many cases they drink and wash in the irrigation channels of nearby cotton fields.
"Breakfast consists of tea and bread. Lunch is almost the same while dinner is made from low quality macaroni or rice soup. They rarely see any meat."
Despite this, children have to pay for the food. The state is paying about 80 soms per kilogramme of cotton picked, the equivalent of 4 US cents.
That money barely covers the price of the food the children consume, and some end up owing money instead of earning it.
New markets
Some Western companies are already boycotting Uzbek cotton, but the government has found other customers.

Dozens of children can be seen here loading cotton on to a truck
Recently Uzbekistan signed big contracts to sell cotton fibre to countries like China, Russia and Iran.
Campaigners say exports to China in particular make it hard for Western retailers and consumers to track where the cotton in products they buy actually comes from.
Many Uzbek farmers do not want to use child labour, but they are powerless to negotiate the price paid by the state and the extremely low wages on offer put adults off picking cotton.
"The government forces us to produce cotton while we want to plant fruits or vegetables," one Uzbek farmer said.
"And again it's the government who decides the price for our cotton and who decides who will pick the cotton."
The BBC Uzbek Service asked government officials, including the Ministry of Education, to comment on allegations that Uzbekistan is still using child labour, but the authorities have declined to comment.
In the meantime, it seems that thousands of children are once again being forced to spend valuable school time toiling away in Uzbekistan's cotton fields until the end of the harvest in December.
Shes never interfered with me. I have no complaints about her.
Same here.
Mega ditto.
I met her once and I found her to be a nice lady. Not kookey in any way.
Penta has always been gracious, kind and very sane in all my interactions with her.
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby bitchesbrew » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:45 am

any ideas for a solution?
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby coldharvest » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:03 am

Yeah, don't use child labour (the west already went down that road full speed)
instead why not let their families starve and remain poverty stricken so we in the West can feel guiltless?


Do your lefty friends spoon-feed you this emotive nonsense or are you truly aware of how horrible just living where and how we do increases the suffering of those down the global slope?
I know the law. And I have spent my entire life in its flagrant disregard.
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby bitchesbrew » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:39 am

coldharvest wrote:instead why not let their families starve and remain poverty stricken so we in the West can feel guiltless?




''better to die on your feet than live on your knees'' - ok as a personal choice. rather indulgent to demand it of someone else.
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby coldharvest » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:48 am

bitchesbrew wrote:
coldharvest wrote:instead why not let their families starve and remain poverty stricken so we in the West can feel guiltless?




''better to die on your feet than live on your knees'' - ok as a personal choice. rather indulgent to demand it of someone else.

The kids feel like they're contributing to their families relief.....but penta's right, they should be in school learning about a world they'll never have so they can expect a job they'll never get.
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby Penta » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:11 am

coldharvest wrote:Yeah, don't use child labour (the west already went down that road full speed)
instead why not let their families starve and remain poverty stricken so we in the West can feel guiltless?

Do your lefty friends spoon-feed you this emotive nonsense or are you truly aware of how horrible just living where and how we do increases the suffering of those down the global slope?

I'm well aware, thank you. But yours is not an accurate description of what's going on here. This is forced child labour (not unlike the forced child labour on infrastructure projects we complain so loudly about in Burma) - in a country whose dictator has forced them into monoculture to enrich himself and his family and cronies (and who clamps down grotesquely hard and viciously on any dissent). A dictator who our governments butter up for reasons to do with supply lines for the war in Afghanistan, energy supplies and geopolitical realpolitik in relation to Russia and China. You don't have to look very far - Craig Murray, for starters - to get the details.

These aren't kids who are helping to feed their families or pay for their own schooling by selling Chiclets on the street. There is a difference.

Later this week it's the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations back in 1989, subsequently ratified by nearly every country in the world (including Uzbekistan). With any luck, under Obama, the US will finally ratify it too. I doubt if Somalia will, but apart from them, it will then be universally in force, so we can all then pressurise countries like Uzbekistan to stop (and pressurise our own governments not to turn a blind eye to) such gross governmental breaches. That's where such international laws empower ordinary people like us (and help us support ambassadors like Craig when they want and try to do the right thing). (Forgive me, Jäeger, problems with sovereignty notwithstanding, I still think they are useful.)
Shes never interfered with me. I have no complaints about her.
Same here.
Mega ditto.
I met her once and I found her to be a nice lady. Not kookey in any way.
Penta has always been gracious, kind and very sane in all my interactions with her.
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby bitchesbrew » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:44 pm

i'm viewing his blog. revelations about the geordie. shitting hell!
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Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby Penta » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:13 pm

bitchesbrew wrote:i'm viewing his blog. revelations about the geordie. shitting hell!


Whose? Craig's? Required reading IMHO.
Shes never interfered with me. I have no complaints about her.
Same here.
Mega ditto.
I met her once and I found her to be a nice lady. Not kookey in any way.
Penta has always been gracious, kind and very sane in all my interactions with her.
User avatar
Penta
Ruby Tuesday
 
Posts: 15585
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 4:32 pm
Location: UK, Spain

Re: Uzbekistan: cotton harvest time

Postby bitchesbrew » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:26 pm

indeed. definately an eye opener.
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