Child labor: Mind The Gap when holiday shopping this year

Child laborers, some as young as 10, have been found working "in conditions close to slavery" at an Indian factory that makes goods destined for holiday shoppers at American Gap Kids stores. Children at a facility in the Shahpur Jat area of Delhi told the Observer they worked long hours without pay in filthy conditions and faced threats and beatings. The Gap -- darling of do-gooders like Bono and Lenny Kravitz -- said it was unaware it was being supplied by a subcontractor that subjected kids to such abuse.

In India it's not that rare: "According to one estimate, more than 20 per cent of India's economy is dependent on children, the equivalent of 55 million youngsters under 14," writes the Guardian.

But The Gap has been stung by accusations of child labor among its suppliers. In 2004, it canceled contracts with 136 overseas suppliers after it admitted that "forced labour, child labour, wages below the minimum wage, physical punishment and coercion" occurred at those plants.

As for the garments the children were working on, unpaid, in New Delhi: The beaded, hand-stitched blouses were headed for store shelves in America and Europe to be sold to Christmas shoppers within the next seven days. The selling price: around $40 each.

Stick that under your Christmas tree.

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