Around 90 Uyghur teenage girls are reportedly trapped in a government controlled garment factory in the Uyghur Region of China. They are subjected to grueling 14-hour workdays, seven days a week, and face verbal and physical abuse, according to a recent investigation by Radio Free Asia. The factory, Wanhe Garment Co. Ltd., allegedly operates under a secret agreement with a nearby vocational school, forcing girls aged 16 to 18 to work against their will.
Expanding Forced Labor Program?
Sources, including a village chief and the factory’s security chief, have disclosed the existence of a confidential arrangement between the factory and Yarkant 2nd Vocational High School, a school catering to students aged 15 to 18. This unusual high school-garment factory agreement raises questions about the coercion of underage workers and may mark an expansion of forced labor programs previously seen only with adult workers.
Terrorized by “Teacher”
Inside the factory, the girls are kept in line by a middle-aged Uyghur woman, referred to as “teacher” by the workers. This individual, identified as Tursungul Memtimin, allegedly resorts to insults, criticism, and even physical abuse. A village official stated that Memtimin uses a bat to harm the workers, instilling an atmosphere of fear that prevents anyone from attempting escape.
Shohret Hoshur and Mary Zhao for Radio Free Asia report,
Ranging in age from 16 to 45, the workers toil from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. in three shifts, with hour-long breaks for lunch and dinner, the security chief said.
They are paid monthly salaries of roughly 300 yuan (US$42) or 400 yuan (US$56) at best, the guard and village chief said.
“The government forcefully brought those workers to the factory to work, and they could not leave the factory of their own will,” said the guard.
A Chinese husband-and-wife team oversees the factory, and gives orders to Memtimin and to the security chief, who jointly manage the workers, the village chief said.
Join the movement
Freedom United is deeply concerned about the RFA report and its implications for the Uyghur forced labor system. The entire system is unacceptable but to target vulnerable children is particularly horrific.
Join us and over 280 organizations, led front and center by survivors and families of current detainees, to take action today.
We are actively advocating for the dismantling of the Uyghur forced labor system and for the rights and dignity of Uyghurs like these teenage girls trapped in a garment factory.
Take action today and stand with us against Uyghur forced labor and against forced child labor.