Victoria’s Secret: Child Labor in the Blistering Burkina Faso Sun

Friday. December 23, 2011

We’ve all seen the TV ads for Victoria’s Secret underwear. A heterosexual fantasy of beautiful women (called “Angels”) wearing lingerie that makes them feel glamorous and irresistible to men.

But the Victoria’s Secret is hiding a dirty secret that skirts the definition of morality.

The cotton used to make their products comes from the African nation of Burkina Faso and is harvested by the tiny hands of child laborers.

Victoria’s Secret proudly boasts that their undergarments are made of:

“Made with 20 percent organic fibers from Burkina Faso.”

What they fail to mention is in Burkina Faso, child labor is endemic to the production of its chief crop export organic cotton and perversely created incentives for child labor exploitation. The program has attracted subsistence farmers who say they don’t have the resources to grow fair-trade cotton without forcing other people’s children into their fields. A violation of a key principle of the movement.

A booklet accompanying a white thong covered with frilly blue and lavender daisies proclaimed “Good for women and good for the children who depend on them.”


13-year old Clarisse Kambire Labors in a West African Cotton Field

Tell that to 13-year old Clarisse Kambire who labors in a West African cotton field. She rises before sunrise from a faded plastic mat that serves as her mattress, barely thicker than the cover of a glossy magazine featuring Victoria’s Secret’s Angels. As she uses her tiny hands to begin the season’s cotton harvest, Clarisse works quickly and efficiently for fears of the man in rags towers over her, a stick raised above his head.

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This entry was posted in Child Exploitation, Child Labor, Corporate Greed, International News, News, Victoria's Secret and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Victoria’s Secret: Child Labor in the Blistering Burkina Faso Sun

  1. Rachel says:

    The exploitation of children takes many forms. Sometimes it’s for labor, other times, prostitution, and still other times, children are actually kidnapped and sent to Arab harems. I heard Victoria’s Secret used child labor to harvest the cotton they use to make their whore outfits but, I thought it couldn’t be possible in the 21st century. I was wrong. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Matteo says:

    Not only the cotton fields but Burkino Faso uses child labor in their gold mines.

    Child Labour in Burkina Faso’s Gold Mines

    http://www.betterbytheyear.org/burkina_faso/burkina_case_study3.htm

    Read it and pass it on.

  3. Abbey Peripatetic says:

    Great piece, Christopher.

    I checked “organic cotton U.S.” on Google and discovered U.S. cotton producers increased their organic product by 29% in 2009. There is no reason other than economics, for Victoria’s Secret to use product from Burkino Faso and exploit children who should be in school or playing.

    Here’s a link:

    http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/organic_cotton.html

  4. TOM339 says:

    Didn’t know any of this.

    Thanks for the information.

  5. DMason says:

    According to Mitt Romney, corporations are people so how can Victoria’s Secret be such a scumbag to poor kids in Burkino Faso?

  6. retahyajyajav says:

    It takes a lot of children’s hands to look that cheap.

  7. Brigadoon says:

    The link Abbey Peripatetic posted shows organic cotton is available right here in the USA and the production doesn’t exploit children. Why isn’t Victoria’s Secret availing themselves of American organic cotton? This is outrageous.

  8. Salomon Justin says:

    Hey, pleeeease stop this kind of writing!
    * firstly: i personally doubt that the girl in the picture seen in the above article is a 13 years old. She looks older than that to me.
    * secondly: it is an evidence that children go with parents in fields for several reasons i cannot widdely discuss hereby. Nevertheless, for those whom are not familiar with Burkina environment, it is good to precise that NO CHILD IS OBLIGE TO WORK A SPECIFIC GIVEN TIME IN A FARM IN BURKINA FASO. One should stop falacious reporting and I think that Victoria Secret must prosecute those carying in medias lies like the one in this article. Also, the author(s) have something against Victoria Secret, they should go battle them directly instead of using lies on Burkina Faso.
    *thirdly: It’s also true that in the poverty context of Burkina Faso, some kids leave schools’ classes to go work in traditionnal gold minnings. But what is voluntarily omitted by reporters is that they do it for their own, attracted by the benefice they can earn from that activity (searching the gold or, selling water to workers or, any other associated activity!
    Therefore, pleeease, STOP telling lies on countries you may have never visited. Also and again, I personally encourages Victoria Secret to prosecute the author(s) of the article, including requesting the checking of the identity of that supposedely 13 years old girl we see in the picture!

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