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COTTON PICKIN’ MAD: Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Eileen Fisher, Nautica, Gear for Sports, The Jones Group, Liz Claiborne and Nike are among the first companies to sign a pledge boycotting the use of Uzbekistan-sourced cotton until the International Labor Organization determines that forced child labor is no longer an issue in the country. The nonprofit Responsible Sourcing Network expects to have lined up 70 companies representing hundreds of brands by New York Fashion Week in September.
The Uzbekistan government forces up to two million children — some as young as seven years old — to leave school to work in the cotton fields for up to two months, organizers said. During the harvest, children are exposed to harmful pesticides. They also allegedly face physical harm or expulsion from school if they fail to reach a daily quota of 50 pounds of raw cotton.
Supporters are considering taking their plea to fashion designer Gulnara Karimova, whose father, Islam Karimov, is the president of Uzbekistan. Last fall she showed her Guli line during the New York shows and is expected back this year.