BURKINA FASO: Lingerie giant to 'fully investigate' allegations of forced child labour

[16 December 2011] - Following a report that Victoria's Secret underwear is made by "undernourished children who are beaten with branches", the lingerie giant promises to "fully investigate".

"Our standards specifically prohibit child labour. We are vigorously engaging with stakeholders to fully investigate this matter," said Tammy Roberts Myers, of Victoria's Secret parent company Limited Brands Inc., in a statement. 

"[The allegations] describe behaviour contrary to our company's values and the code of labour and sourcing standards we require all of our suppliers to meet." 

The story of child labour being used in Burkina Faso cotton fields - which provides the material to Victoria's Secret factories - was broken by Bloomberg on Thursday. A Bloomberg reporter had spent six weeks investigating labour conditions in so-called "fair trade" cotton fields of West Africa.

In one interview, Clarisse Kambire, a 13-year-old labourer explains how she digs more than 500 rows for cotton, a job that an ox and plough would do if the farmer could afford one.

"I'm starting to think about how he will shout at me and beat me again," the girl said. If she is too slow, she is beaten with a tree branch.

Victorien Kamboule, the farmer she describes, confirms: "If I leave the child out, how will I be able to do the work? I sometimes beat her. This is when I give her work and she doesn't deliver."

The cotton produced in Burkina Faso was launched as part of a fair trade range by Victoria's Secret in 2009. It is described on labels as "Good for women. Good for the children who depend on them." 


Further Information: 

pdf: http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/news-features/TMG8961256/Victorias-Secret...


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