I’ve posted in the past about how messed up the human rights situation is in Uzbekistan.

Small children are forced to pick cotton instead of go to school for weeks at a time during the fall.

The cotton is grown in fields that the government essentially seizes, and then the cotton is sold for the government’s profit to other countries.

I was suprised this weekend to come across this article about how that may be coming to an end:

But, in what has been described as a major breakthrough, a decision by some of the world’s biggest clothing businesses has forced the Uzbeki government in recent weeks to sign International Labour Organisation conventions that commit the country to stop using child labour in its state-sponsored industry.

Retailers that have pulled out of the central Asian state include Tesco, Asda Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer and Gap.

This would be a huge step forward if it works, which is still way up in the air:

Steve Trent, director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), said: “This is a major step forward. Virtually nothing persuaded the government to change course. But the actions of retailers and campaigners are definitely now having an impact. But the key question that remains is whether the Uzbeki government will implement the conventions. They need to allow independent monitoring and work with civil society, which are basic requirements of the conventions they have signed up to and ratified. They are not doing this so the jury is out.”

Nevertheless, I’m encouraged that someone is taking notice of the human rights abuse in Uzbekistan.

I applaud the retailers who are taking a financial hit to stand up for what is right.

Let’s keep praying!