30 July 2018
All Fair Wear Foundation member brands commit to the FWF 8 labour standards which includes all work being freely chosen: no forced or bonded labour, and no child labour in their production factories.
Today, 30 July, is World Day Against Human Trafficking. Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that frequently intersects with child labour, forced labour, and bonded labour. In 2016, the ILO estimated that 40 million people were victims of modern slavery, approximately 25 million of which were victims of forced labour. They further estimate that 71% of modern slavery victims are women and girls.
Forced labour may be present in the garment industry, for example in informal work environments—whereby workers are not protected by legal and regulatory frameworks—or in labour intensive parts of the garment supply chain. According to the Global Slavery Index 2018, many of the production countries where FWF brands source exhibit risk factors for modern slavery within the population, particularly amongst marginalised groups.
For example, a form of forced labour in India known as the Sumangali Scheme recruits young women and girls, typically from a lower caste, to work in spinning factories on the promise of a lump sum payment at the end of three years, which is meant to be used to cover their wedding expenses. This system can lead to child labour, limited freedom of movement, excessive working hours and lack of adequate leave. Women may be unable to stop working at the factory before the end of three years, as they risk forfeiting their pay.
To learn more about the Sumangali Scheme and Bonded Labour in India, see this FWF report.