Many organizations including the International Labor Organization and UNICEF have documented how hundreds of thousands of children in Asia are sold into slavery to produce hand knotted rugs for export into North America and other Western countries. The children, as young as six years old, work 12-20 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of them suffer from lung and eye diseases and kidney illnesses from working in cramped conditions for long hours. Children who don't make their quota, who make mistakes or who try to escape are beaten.



- is a labeling system which certifies that illegal child labor was not used in the manufacturing of handmade rugs.


RUGMARK is an international program that began in India with German support, as well as that of UNICEF and rug manufacturers. Rugmark expanded in 1996 to include Nepal and in 1998 to include Pakistan. The trademark is held by Rugmark International, registered in Germany, and the overall policies are set by a board that includes representataives from all the producing countries - India, Pakistan and Nepal, and the marketing countries, including U.S., Germany, and UK. There are also Rugmark committees in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and an incipient committee in Italy.


Who owns the trademark and how is it financed?

The owner of the trademark and holder of the inspection/certification system is a foundation in India. The RUGMARK Foundation includes the Indo-German Export Promotion Council, representatives of the carpet industry, 150 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which comprise the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS), and neutral international organizations, such as UNICEF-India. The initiative will be financed in part through a licensing fee paid by participating carpet manufacturers.


What is involved in the licensing process?

Carpet manufacturers who want to join the trademark initiative and become certified must:

1) produce carpets without any child labor involved

2) pay at least the minimum wages fixed by the government to their employees;

3) agree to allow access to their looms for unannounced inspections

The mandatory criteria mentioned above will become legally binding once an enterprise has committed itself to using the trademark and becomes licensed. Illegal use of the trademark carries criminal penalties.


Is there a monitoring system in place?

The carpet factories will be monitored on a regular basis through regular inspections. Inspectors will be employed by the RUGMARK Foundation and will be trained and supervised by them. In the first two years of initial licensing, the factory will have unannounced inspections more frequently (once every three or four months).


What is unique about RUGMARK?

For the first time ever, consumers can have confidence that a product is made without child labor. This has been an area of frustration for consumers -- when questioned, few consumers want to purchase such products, but know they do so from a lack of options. The RUGMARK label provides consumers with a choice when buying a hand-knotted rug.

A RUGMARK label is available to manufacturers who agree to use no child labor in the production of hand-knotted carpets. In order for a manufacturer to use the label, the manufacturer must comply with strict guidelines and allow unannounced inspections by trained inspectors employed by the RUGMARK Foundation. No other labels, pledges, or assurances provide the same integrity and accountability, upon which consumers may have confidence that the product is indeed made free of child labor.


For more information about Rugmark and the rug manufacturers who have joined the RUGMARK you may wish to contact:

Rugmark Foundation USA
733 15th Street NW, Suite 920
Washington, D.C. 20005
202-347-4205 (phone)
202-347-4885 (fax)


Child Labor Coalition
c/o National Consumers League
1701 K Street, NW #1200
Washington, DC 20006


In Canada

Free the Children
16 Thornbank Road
Thornhill, Ontario
Canada - L4J 2A2

Reforming the System