Cottoning On: Child Labour in the Cotton Industry

Cotton remains a highly desired commodity in the West, ubiquitous on the racks of almost any clothing store. Consumers are attracted by its natural quality and assume it to be ethical despite generally being clueless to its origins. Mali, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso are three countries that make up an unholy Trinity of cotton production, catering to the world’s insatiable hunger for this ’white gold’. What the world doesn’t know is that the cotton slave trade is not a mere memory, it is a reality lived out each day by the children of West Africa.

These children are maltreated, exploited and trafficked, often forced to work twelve-hour days in the oppressive heat. Journalist Vanina Kanban uncovers the ugly truth; although hiring underage workers is universally illegal, it seems that adults at every level of the industry are willing to turn a blind eye. Embarrassed and evasive, they all claim to be powerless to stop a practice which sees child workers paid in cheap sweets or small change, if at all. We witness first-hand the lies and deception that drive a billion-dollar industry.


  • Year: 2011
  • Duration: 52 MINS
  • Production: TV PRESSE
  • Director: Vanina KANBAN
  • Available Versions: FRA, English Script Available
  • Country of production: France

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