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The Most Beautiful Rug: RugMark's Campaign to End Child Labor
More than 300,000 children are exploited in the South Asian carpet industry to weave rugs for North American and European homes. Children ages 4 to 14 are kidnapped or trafficked, sold into debt bondage or forced labor, and suffer malnutrition, impaired vision, deformities and wounds. Rugs are among Asia's top export products and the industry is a major employer of the poor. If child exploitation is the norm in a country's principal industry, there is little chance to break the extreme cycle of poverty without an effort such as the RugMark Campaign to End Child Labor.
The Most Beautiful Rug is designed to put an end to child labor in the South Asian carpet industry within the next decade. Campaign sponsor RugMark is an international nonprofit organization also working to offer educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The RugMark label offers the best assurance that no illegal child labor was used in the manufacture of a carpet or rug.
RugMark conducts rigorous independent inspections and certifies child-labor-free rugs with the individually numbered RugMark label. Money from each RugMark labeled rug funds education and training programs in weaving communities in South Asia. RugMark operates 13 schools and rehabilitation centers to provide opportunities for children rescued from illegal child labor.
Goals of the campaign are to:
- Educate consumers about the issue of illegal child labor in the handmade rug industry.
- Drive consumer demand for certified child-labor-free rugs and carpets.
- Invite interior designers to recommend child-labor-free rugs for their clients.
- Ask retailers to carry RugMark certified rugs.
- Encourage importers to seek independent certification to ensure the ethical production of imported rugs.
- Increase funding for schools, training programs and other services that strengthen weaving communities.
A study by the international Labor Office shows that it would cost $700 billion to end child labor, but the benefits to South Asian economies through increasing jobs and education would be about seven times that. Just a 15 percent increase in market share of RugMark certified rugs would eliminate child labor in South Asia's handmade carpet and rug industry.
Metropolitan Group provided strategic direction, campaign development and implementation for The Most Beautiful Rug, including creative direction for the website, media strategy and online communication strategy.
For more information on the campaign and list of importers and retailers that sell RugMark certified rugs visit www.rugmark.org.