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Framing the issue

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Child labour in cotton supply chains

Despite years of action to eliminate child labour, companies sourcing textiles still run the risk of being linked to the practice. According to Verisk Maplecroft’s Child Labour Index 2016, reports of child labour in some of the world’s largest cotton producing countries continue to be commonplace, including in India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Burkina Faso.

The map below reveals that the top 10 cotton producing countries vary significantly in terms of prevalence of child labour violations. In half of these countries (India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Burkina Faso), child labour is widespread and represents a significant risk for businesses sourcing cotton. A strong legal framework is important but not sufficient to reduce rates of child labour, but government enforcement efforts are a much greater predictor of the prevalence of child labour violations in a given country. Verisk Maplecroft’s Decent Wages Index also shows that the risk of child labour violations is lower in countries, such as US and Australia, where adult workers receive adequate wages to help them support their families.