Bloomberg Markets Magazine reports that underage, mistreated African children have been forced to plant and pick organic, fair-trade cotton used in Victoria Secret’s underwear.
Bloomberg highlights the “nightmare” of 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire (video) and six other children who work on organic-cotton farms in Burkina Faso and sell their crops to Victoria’s Secret. The report says child labor “is endemic” to the production of cotton, the country’s chief export crop.
Paying lucrative premiums for organic and fair-trade cotton has created fresh incentives for exploitation. The program has attracted subsistence farmers who say they don’t have the resources to grow fair-trade cotton without violating a central principle of the movement: forcing other people’s children into their fields.
Victoria’s Secret is engaging in child abuse to make money; it’s that simple. Having now been “outed,” Victoria’s Secret and its parent brand, The Limited, are suitably outraged and vow to do an investigation. The simple truth is, big corporations don’t care about the well-being of children because their consumers don’t care. When people like you and I spend our dollars accordingly, when the celebrity lingerie models refuse to model, when VS employees move on to “greener” companies, and when their bottom line is affected, that’s when they’ll start to care.