Indian ‘Slave’ Children Found Making Low-Cost Clothes for Gap


Another sad and absurd chapter has been written in the long, destrcutive saga that is the new ‘Global Economy.’

Child workers as young as 10 years old, have been found working in a textile factory in conditions close to slavery to produce clothes that appear destined for Gap Kids. Children described long hours of unwaged work, as well as threats and beatings. Gap said it was unaware that clothing intended for the Christmas market had been improperly subcontracted to a sweatshop using child labor.

I bet they weren’t aware. 

GAP announced it had withdrawn the garments involved while it investigated breaches of the self-imposed ethical code by the company three years ago.

All this, so suburban American white kids can look more fashionable, as their parents take them to the mall where they can over consume and perpetuate this cycle of exploiting the poor.  

Children working in filthy conditions in Delhi, India, has renewed concerns about outsourcing by large retail chains, and their garment production in third world countries. The United Nations has long recognized India as the world’s capital for child labor, yet little change as there are now an estimated 15,000 garment factories in India. According to one estimate, more than 20 per cent of India’s economy is dependent on child labor.

Despite its charitable activities with an eye on polishing it’s image, Gap has been criticized for outsourcing clothing production to the developing world many times in the past. In 2004, when it launched its social audit, it admitted that forced labor, child labor, wages below the minimum wage, physical punishment and coercion were among abuses it had found at some factories producing garments for the company. In the past year Gap has dealt with 23 suppliers reagarding workplace abuses.

Human rights violations in the form of illegal child labor are a logical extension of globalism, in that they serve to apply downward pressure on retail prices, so a debt driven Western economy can continue to over consume, and keep the world retail industry afloat. There is no other solution anything short of exploitation. That’s why human rights violations and child labor keeps happening…no matter what GAP, Wal-Mart or any other retailer wants you to believe. 

The fact is that companies like the GAP and Wal-Mart, are completely insulated from any legal liability or criminal prosecution as they hide behind nameless and faceless sub-contractors who wholesale clothes to these retailers on the backs of beaten children. When caught, they simply do what they always have done – declare that the practice is an outrage and pull product from their supply channels from that contractor, until they receive another shipment from the next contractor. 

If these retailers were really concerned about human rights, they would shift productions operations to countries where these types of abuses cannot happen – the U.S. might be a solid move in that direction…but we know that will never happen. Instead they continue to willingly sacrifice children in the name of profit. They do not care about these third world children because they own everything there is to own, including most governments, and they are simply above any real prosecution that has any teeth. 

Until consumers take action, this dynamic simply will not change, and there’s no sign American consumers, blinded by false prosperity and vanity, are willing to change their habits. Ensalved children aren’t even a blip on the radar to them.

This  deplorable and overtly criminal situation in India is a clear violation of international trade law as well as a gross violation of human rights. GAP executives should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law based on any knowledge they had regarding the use of sweatshops. Surely we can punish those who abuse children and send a message to the money and power elite that this type of activity will not be tolerated.    

Gap said in a statement from its headquarters in San Francisco: ‘We firmly believe that under no circumstances is it acceptable for children to produce or work on garments. These allegations are deeply upsetting and we take this situation very seriously. All of our suppliers and their subcontractors are required to guarantee that they will not use child labor to produce garments. In this situation, it’s clear one of our vendors violated this agreement and a full investigation is under way.’

That’s commendable on their part, but I say consumers in the West should be demanding answers from retailers as to how goods are produced and think twice about where they spend their money. Why you ask? GAP will not police themselves and willingly give up garments made for pennies, even if they are made by enslaved children. Quite frankly, profit trumps all other cards, even a moral conscious or human rights. That’s what globalism is at it’s core of mud – the blind pursuit of ever cheaper labor. It’s happening everywhere at the expense of the poor – child labor in India, wide spread and unrestricted pollution resulting in ‘cancer villages’ in China…all so we can have cheap jeans and lower cost sweaters. 

Proof is embodied in how GAP reacted. They did not immediately cut ties with the supplier it accused of improper subcontracting.

Company spokesman Bill Chandler said the company was taking the breach of its child labor policies “extremely seriously,” and continued by saying, “We’re willing to end relationships with vendors when they don’t meet our standards.” 

The problem is, they didn’t.


Posted on October 29, 2007, in Abuse of Power, Free Trade, Globalism, Human Rights, Labor, Law, Politics, Social Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I agree with your overall premise on the evils of globalism, but deplore your small minded rampant racism. Suburban White kids indeed! They’re plenty of kids in India and Nepal wearing Gap clothes themselves. And plenty of non-Whites in America doing the same.

    Try espousing your economic views with spewing your race hate everywhere, you might get more supporters.

  2. MJ "revoltingpawn"


    I had to read the post twice to find the white kid reference.. You seem to be the one with rampant racism on the mind. What race hate are you talking about? Matthew and myself are both white folk and it’s an insult if you are trying to say we hate our own race.

    Your logic is also some what lacking… If this was during our slavery period guess your comment on the white slave trade would be hey some blacks in Africa own black slaves. The ignorance we get in this comments is just unbelievable.

  3. “White Guilt” is just another form of racism. How else was someone supposed to to take the “suburban White kid” reference?

    As for your slavery comment, no that wouldn’t have been my response. While Africans did keeps slaves – as did most cultures of that time – only America went so far as to completely dehumanize them. That wasn’t one of the bright spots in our history.

  4. Jonolan,

    If my post is unclear, please allow me to clarify. Your passion for anti-racist discourse is apparent and appreciated.

    In no way am I suggesting anything other than the obvious…globalism is killing us all slowly. I’m sure that there are children of color everywhere wearing GAP clothes. I’m just running with the stereotype of ‘white kids in the suburbs at the GAP! Black and Hispanic comedians joke about it all the time!!! Come on…you need to give me a pass on that one! Anyways, none of that matters.

    What I want to stress is that I was not trying to offend anyone here and your conclusion that I espouse “race hatred” is patently incorrect. Just read my post on Dr. James Watson Using Garbage Science -or- Bush vs. Jackson and the Exploitation of Native Americans.

    I hope you comment in the future.

  5. MJ "revoltingpawn"

    “White Guilt” on the author’s part or yours? Since I know Matthew personally can tell you he has no guilt about anything.

    My point was that when read the post I was thinking about exploited children in India and also Corporate America and consumers not really caring. Guess that would include me since rarely ever look to see where the clothing I am buying was made. Being poor I am much like everyone else and price driven when making purchases. At least I stay away from Wal-Mart….

    Contrast that from your comment which seems like when you read the post you found a racism angle. “White-Guilt”? That was my take….

  6. Matthew,

    That clears things up very nicely. I react a bit strongly to stereotypes. My apologies.


    My strident reaction is not based on any “guilt feelings” of my own, but rather on such forms of ethno-guiltism being preached at me a bit too often lately. Sorry!

    I think we can all agree that the current climate of globalism is fostering a lot of bad behavior. The Free market has a dark side when you start dealing with wildly disparate local economies.

  7. I posted an announcement by Gap yesterday that said those goods would not be accepted for purchase.
    As for the morality of it all, I don’t react well to the “Mexican labour” sitution either, not that our government has clean hands re: migrant workers.

  8. opit,

    I agree with you completely. They are pulling the goods but you can bet they’ll still be doing business with that sub-contractor. The whole thing is criminal.

  9. I doubt that it would matter if they changed subcontractors or suppliers. Child exploitation is a common occurrence in India, Pakistan and China. It’s really no better in the “Green Zones” in post-NAFTA Mexico either.

    Globalism only benefits 3rd-World governments and Trans-National Corporations.

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