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January 13, 2020

Mexico launches plan to tackle labour abuse in fashion supply chain

Two initiatives aimed at cracking down on child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in the fashion industry are launching in Mexico, both supported by the C&A Foundation.

By Hannah Abdulla

Two initiatives aimed at cracking down on child labour, forced labour and human trafficking in the fashion industry are launching in Mexico, both supported by the C&A Foundation.

The International Organisation for Migration project’s efforts will be focused on the state of Puebla which is said to have a high degree of social inequality, with 59.4% of its population living in poverty.

“In light of the problem of human trafficking in Mexico, IOM is facing this challenge by fostering linkages between the public and private sectors to establish co-ordination mechanisms aimed at creating action that will help provide assistance and social integration to the victims of human trafficking”, explained Christopher Gascon, chief of mission for IOM in Mexico.

The initiative will seek to put strategies, mechanisms and operations in place for collaboration with local members of civil society and the public and private sectors in the state of Puebla, so that the initiative can avail itself of their knowledge, experience and resources and can tap their potential for joining in the fight against human trafficking, forced labour and child labour.

Some of the decision-makers who will be participating in this initiative include the State of Puebla Secretariat of Labour, the Office of the State Attorney General, the National Association against Human Trafficking in Society (ANTHUS), the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), members of the Confederation of Mexican Employers (COPARMEX) in Puebla and the Puebla-Tlaxcala Regional Office of the National Chamber of the Clothing Industry (CANAIVE).

IOM’s allies will participate in three inter-agency workgroups in which an Annual Work Plan will be drafted. This document will include the specific actions to be taken by civil society and the public and private sectors in Puebla to prevent and detect human trafficking that is done for the purposes of labour exploitation, forced labour and child labour, and to assist the victims of trafficking as well as to learn about the best practices with regard to this issue.

The second of the two initiatives sees World Vision Mexico and the C&A Foundation team up to tackle the issue of child labour in the fashion industry in Puebla’s Tehuacan region.

The two-year initiative will be implemented in six communities across the Tehuacan region.

“Tehuacán is an area with a high rate of violence, and other situations where the human rights of children, adolescents and adults are being violated have also been identified, such as human trafficking and child labour. In the case of Tehuacán, the textile industry has a significant presence there, especially in the production of jeans. We’ve been privy to information that child labour is prevalent among providers in the textile industries,” says Oscar Castillo, director of World Vision Mexico’s Campos de Esperanza (Fields of Hope) project.

The project includes a comprehensive approach that consists of trainings on conducting detection sessions; on keeping boys, girls, and adolescents in school; on public awareness campaigns at the community level; and on alliances with representatives of this private initiative, as well as on how to adapt World Vision’s methodologies, which are based on programs such as Empoderando Familias (Empowering Families), which seeks to expand the sources of income within family units in order to prevent minors entering the workforce. 

The initiative is supported by the National Chamber of the Clothing Industry (CANAIVE) and the State of Puebla Chamber of Commerce, but there are also members of civil society.

In this initiative, World Vision Mexico will also be working hand-in-hand with representatives from the State of Puebla Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (STPS), the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF), the Office of the State Attorney General for the Protection of Boys, Girls, and Adolescents (PRODENNA), and the National Comprehensive Child Protection System (SIPINNA; all acronyms in Spanish) to revise the regulations and protocols on researching child labour in the region and to create better strategies for protecting children’s rights in the state of Puebla and beyond.

Ismael Solis, World Vision Mexico’s regional manager in the states of Puebla, Oaxaca and Veracru, says: “We foresee having a direct effect on 500 children through our intervention in this project and having indirect effects for 2,000 more; but from our previous experiences, we’ve noted that you can reach more communities by entering into alliances with other schools and with the senior leadership of nearby municipalities. That’s why we’ve also entered into discussions with certain representatives from the local authorities.”

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