Fact Check: Are there grave stones produced by child labor?

In the context of children’s work on gravestones, claims are repeatedly made that will be examined in more detail below:

Claim 1: There is no child labor at gravestones!

The fact is:
Unannounced visits to Indian quarries have shown time and again that children are working on hammer drills. This is documented in photos, including by a photographer who has worked for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. (siehe: Beitrag)
Dusseldorf University of Applied Sciences also prepared an opinion on this question and stated that grave stones from India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines could be used for child labor. (siehe: Gutachten/Beitrag)

Claim 2: Children can not work on natural stones in quarries, because they are too heavy!

The fact is: If the natural stones (rough blocks in quarries) are too heavy for children, then of course they are also for the adults. Clever: It is not assumed by child labor experts that the children would have to lift inhospitable natural stones while working in quarries. But by contradicting such a (fictional) assumption, one makes use of the simple rhethoric gimmick: first put a false claim into space, then vehemently contradict it – and thus allegedly reduce the total assumption of child labor in Indian quarries to absurdity. But as I said, this is just a rhethoric gimmick that needs to be debunked.

Claim 3: The quarries in India, where raw materials for gravestones are mined, are highly industrialized, so that no children could work there. The machines used in these quarries are all too complicated to be used by children.

The fact is: It is true that there are also highly industrialized quarries in India – in which you can not come in without an invitation but not unannounced (as how they are actually worked there, no one will actually be able to maintain serious!). But it is also true that there are numerous quarries in Southern India that are working “conservatively”: with holes that either fill explosive charges or are needed for diamond saws. These holes are, however, set with jackhammersand it is precisely on such machines that child laborers (as defined by the ILO Convention 182) have been found again and again. That’s the key point.

Claim 4: It can not be guaranteed at all that the tombstones can be traced back to the quarry. A stonemason can not control every supply chain and make sure that no children have worked there.

The fact is: The stonemason does not even have to check that himself. There are external “service providers” who specialize in this.

XertifiX, for example, has been controlling natural stone supply chains for many years and issuing the natural stone seals when the supply chain can be traced back to the quarry and the certification requirements at the production sites are met. With other words, if tombstones were certified with the XertifiX seal, then the quarry was also checked unannounced and by this ensured, among other things, that (with very high probability) there are no children working there. This is important to know for relatives, traders and stonemasons, cemetery administrations and politicians changing cemetery legislation.

So if in the future you meet someone who claims that Indian gravestones can not do child labor at all, then you can answer with a clear conscience that this is just rubbish.

This does not mean that Indian tombstones are always produced with child labor. That would be just nonsense (and no one will claim reputable)! But that means very well, that one should always make sure that the tombstones are not made with child labor by regular and reliable (!), unannounced (!) checks at Indian tombstones.

2019-08-20T23:30:17+02:00August 20th, 2019|

Book from Prof. Eberlei: Gravestones from the hands of children

literally from the press release of the Hochschule Düsseldorf:
“New HSD study calls for action by German states”

The prohibition on erecting gravestones from countries in which exploitative child labor predominates must now also be rigorously implemented. So the conclusion of Prof. Dr. med. Walter Eberlei of the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf (HSD), whose book “Grave stones aus Kinderhand” has just been published. The book presents the results of a study on child labor in the natural stone sector of important supplier countries for Germany. According to this information, stones from India, Vietnam and the Philippines provide evidence of child labor in the natural stone sector, which is highly probable in China. More than half of all tombstones erected in Germany come from India and China.

In 2014, the North Rhine-Westphalian Landtag changed the NRW funeral law and banned the erection of tombstones from countries whose natural stone sector is in violation of the international law ILO convention against exploitative child labor. Stones from such countries may only be used if they have been certified as child labor free. However, the implementation of the law was suspended by decree because there was no clarity as to which supplier countries the certification requirement should apply to. The study of the HSD political scientist eliminates this ambiguity.

Professor Eberlei: “All federal states are obliged to implement in their laws the convention of international law ratified by Germany against child labor.”

The now published book on the topic contains detailed country analyzes on India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil as well as summary evaluations. A ten-person team of scientists, also from affected supplier countries, participated in the study. Client for the research was the state government in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Walter Eberlei (ed.): Gravestones from the hands of children. Child labor in quarries of the global South as a political challenge. Frankfurt / M .: Brandes & Apsel, 2018.”

Please refer to: Press release

2018-09-21T09:40:26+02:00April 5th, 2018|

SZ author receives Axel Springer Prize

The SZ author Björn Stephan receives the Axel Springer Prize
For his report on child labor in the Indian gravestone industry

2015-12-04 Granitsteinbruch

In the report, Björn Stephan and Benjamin Pütter have shown that Indian children have to work for the production of tombstones. These are gravestones that have been found in German cemeteries. This fact of the child labor for Indian gravestones, which can be sold also here in Germany, is continually denied by the local industry.

The regional government of NRW has recently published a scientific study on the topic, which states that “in addition to the legal formulations in the BestG NRW, it must be noted that in India in the production of natural stoneone must assume the existence of the worst forms of child labor …”

Congratulations to Björn Stephan for the prize!

Siehe: Axel Springer Prize

Siehe SZ-Beitrag Die Kindergräber

2019-09-23T11:15:33+02:00May 4th, 2017|

Federal Government recommends XertifiX

The Federal Government compares the seals of different product groups on its Internet portals. At the end of 2016, the Natural Stone product group was also launched. If a seal fulfills the minimum requirements, the comprehensive assessment will examine a catalog of several hundred criteria. From the examination of these criteria, a score is obtained.

For XertifiX, it says: “Good choice, this seal fulfills our credibility and social requirements.” We are delighted that XertifiX has done so well with its two seals and is recommended by the federal government.

It is the great merit of the Federal Government to invest a great deal of work, money and resources in informing consumers and purchasers about the numerous seals and to bring clarity into the diversity of the seals.

Siehe: Our XertifiX standard label on seal clarity

Siehe: Our XertifiX PLUS label on seal clarity


2019-09-23T11:14:48+02:00January 17th, 2017|