I just read this article that was written by Amanda Kloer and I felt the need to share this with you. I am thankful that Amanda writes about these issues and makes some very valid point. Please read below. Thanks
Will America’s $1 Million Investment in Afghan Rugs Boost Child Labor?
by Amanda Kloer August 17, 2010 02:00 PM (PT) Topics: Child Labor
.After nearly nine years of fighting in Afghanistan, the U.S. military thinks they finally have a solution to the broken economy there: rugs. The Pentagon is poised to invest $1 million in the Afghan carpet and rug industry to create jobs and stimulate the economy. But will they learn from the ongoing battle against child labor and exploitation in the carpet industries in India, Pakistan, and other neighbors and create protections against abuse from the start?
Carpet and rug manufacture in Afghanistan is older than the U.S., and quite frankly, most of the other countries in the world. It’s a traditional art steeped in culture, so investing in carpet and rug manufacturing seems like a prudent move to stimulate trade with Afghanistan and boost their economy. However, the carpet industry in Central and East Asia has long been one of the most notorious for child labor, slave labor, and human trafficking. While there have been vast improvements in the industry recently, especially in India, children are still forced to work in the carpet industries in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The size and dexterity of children’s fingers lend themselves to carpet-making easily, making them attractive targets for traffickers looking to get rich off rugs. And unless the Pentagon adds safeguards such as monitoring and reporting requirements to their investment, American taxpayers could end up funding an explosion of child labor in Afghanistan.
The no-bid contract to carry out all this new carpet business is going to a company called Tremayne Consulting, which is based out of New Jersey, literally half a world away from Afghanistan. Tremayne will be in charge of identifying 15 different Afghan suppliers to subcontract the work out to. Those 15 suppliers can, in turn, each subcontract out to as many smaller companies as they like, some of whom can also subcontract. In other words, once Operation Area Rug is up and running, your tax dollars could be invested in the subcontractors of subcontractors of subcontractors of … you get the picture. That’s why oversight is so critically important to projects like this, and why the U.S. government has been frequently criticized for lack of a oversight that allows their subcontractors to enslave people.
Investing in a traditional, local industry to boost the Afghan economy is a great idea, but investing in an industry famous for child labor problems without creating any monitoring or reporting criteria to prevent labor abuses is a recipe for trouble. Hopefully, the Pentagon will learn from the decades of efforts in India and Pakistan and take proactive measures to prevent the children of Afghanistan from suffering the same fate as their easterly neighbors. Because prosperity for the looms of Afghanistan shouldn’t come at the cost of its children.