If someone thinks of the term “hand-knotted carpets“ it inevitably evokes culture, arts, the Orient, and the bazaar. We associate them with our desires and images of dreams, with “flying carpets“ and stories from “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights“, with the “East and West“. Truly suspenseful and charming images, but unfortunately the world of carpets today is only rarely that fabulous and legendary. The carpet trade is a hard business – and unfortunately all too often a world of reckless wheeling and dealing, making the weak suffer: the poor and sick, and above all many children.
At the beginning of the 90’s many cases of child labour became well-known in India, Nepal and Pakistan and made headlines in consumer countries. The combat against child labour intensi- fied and led to protests and calls for boycotts. The latter, however, would certainly not have been an adequate means to help the people concerned. This was the reason why CAIR & FAIR, founded by socially committed carpet importers, was started to help in these countries through the construction of schools and the establishment of basic medical care facilities. The distress was greatest in the carpet belt of the Indian federal state Uttar Pradesh (region Bhadohi/Mirzapur), in the Kathmandu valley and in Lahore, the car-pet center of Pakistan. These aid projects are not intended to export western ideas, but should be oriented toward the needs of the local population who provides suggestions and participates in the projects’ development.
According to the ILO’s estimations, 250 million children worldwide are still obliged to work in various industries. The exact number of children working in the carpet industry is not known, only estimates exist. But every child is one child too many. Illegal child labour in particular must be universally outlawed and combated. Children have the right to a childhood, without work that exploits them; they need a school education in order to have the chance to self-determine their lives. Thus CARE&FAIR fights for these rights for a future and perspectives for a better life.
Text taken from http://care-fair.org for which Utah Rugs is an active member and a proud sponsor.
visit the care fair website for more information about child labor and rugs.