By Bianca Alexander
When it comes to rugs, there’s nothing more beautiful than an Oriental carpet. With silky textures and vibrant worldly patterns, Oriental carpets compliment almost any décor palette, creating luxurious interior design in an instant.
Part of what makes authentic Oriental rugs beautiful is that they are hand woven by talented artisans in countries like India, Nepal and Pakistan. Unfortunately, this is also what makes these carpets ugly.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 12 percent of children in India ages 5-14 are engaged in child labor activities, including carpet production. Many are subject to inhumane working conditions, including being forced to weave up to 18 hours a day in a factory, loom shed, or sweatshop. As a result, child laborers can be denied the opportunity to go to school, and are subject to unchecked abuse and trafficking into other forms of illegal labor. For example, girls from rural Nepal are often recruited to work in carpet factories, then trafficked illegally over the border to India to work in the sex industry.
One non-profit, GoodWeave, is helping to combat this problem and transform the rug industry. They certify child-labor-free rugs and rescue at-risk children from harsh working conditions, providing them education. Since Goodweave’s launch in 1995, they have freed more than 3,700 children from weaving looms, providing each with the skills needed to embark on a new path in life. After being reunited with their families whenever possible, these rescued children—most of whom have never seen the inside of a classroom—are offered a fully sponsored education through grade 10 or the age of 18, whichever comes first. As a result of these efforts, experts estimate that child labor on South Asia’s carpet looms has dropped from 1 million to 250,000.
How can you be a part of the solution? By only purchasing carpets with the GoodWeave seal, you can be assured that no child labor was involved in creating it—making it the most beautiful rug of all.