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.”
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.