The latest annual update on the efforts of 137 countries and territories to eliminate the worst forms of child labour notes that 21 countries still use children in cotton and garment production.
The latest edition of the US Department of Labor’s ‘Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor’ report examines the efforts of 137 countries on eliminating the practice through laws, regulations, government enforcement and policy initiatives in 2015.
In the clothing and textiles sector, child labour was most commonly used in cotton production, with a long list of countries named as using children for the planting and harvest of cotton.
These include Argentina, Azerbaijan, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mali, Paraguay, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zambia.
Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, were also highlighted for the use of child labour in textiles production, while India and Nepal use children in the production of embellished textiles.
The report also draws attention to children involved in garment and footwear manufacturing, where they are typically exposed to loud noise, extreme temperatures, sharp tools, dangerous machinery and dust. Countries highlighted here include Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam and Thailand in garments; and Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Indonesia for footwear.
Earlier this month the US Department of Labor (DOL) added textiles, footwear and leather products made in Vietnam to a list of goods produced using child or forced labour.
The report says there are 168m child labourers and 21m adults and children who suffer in forced labour around the world.
However, efforts by countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labour are one of the criteria for eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences, the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
The report tracks from year to year whether a country has made significant, moderate, minimal, or no advancement.
For 2015, 16 countries are listed as having made significant advancement: Brazil, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Uganda, Argentina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jordan, Montenegro, Panama and Algeria.
Countries said to have improved their assessment level from minimal to moderate advancement included Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Macedonia, Malawi, Mauritius and Tanzania, while Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Madagascar, South Africa and Thailand dropped from significant advancement to moderate advancement.
A map produced earlier this year shows the top ten cotton producing countries with the biggest risk of child labour.