Victoria's Secret's sexy lingerie offerings for women start from the basics, such as cotton that's picked from many fields, including one in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. A recent Bloomberg report uncovered a story of a 13 year-old girl, who's beaten by the farmer that she works for in a Burkina Fasco field, which supplies the cotton used in some of Victoria's Secret's creations. This immediately started an investigation by the parent company of the lingerie giant.
It's not just about depicting women as sexy creatures that this lingerie company is advertising, the company also promotes empowering women through exploring their sexuality with all the lovely things created by Victoria's Secret. Being linked to child labor goes against the grain of this lingerie giant. Child labor is nothing new to African farms, but this is a certified organic and fair trade farm, which means forced child labor is not accepted on this farm, according to CNN.
This girl beaten by the farmer suggests forced child labor, which goes against the "Charter of Fair Trade Principles" published by the World Fair Trade Organization in 2009. This publication recognizes the important part that family production units play in the fields, but any involvement by children comes with the expectations that they fall under strict guidelines.
Children's involvement in the work environment with their families must come with a disclosure and monitoring the children for an adverse affect on their well-being is mandatory. Working with a family needs to come along with opportunities for education, playtime and security, states the publication.
It's recognized that in countries such as this one, the kids will follow the family into working the fields, so learning the ropes along side the families is part of the culture. Forced labor and exploiting kids is not acceptable and a farm that's certified for fair trade means that it's free of this type of behavior, apparently some slip throught the cracks.
The US Labor Department released a report earlier this year that found child labor happens in more than a dozen countries for cotton production including Burkina Faso. The leader of Burkina Faso's organic and fair-trade program states that all of Burkina Faso's organic crop of cotton went to Victoria's Secret last year.
A fine line's drawn when it comes to child labor. Think about the restaurants in your area where an entire family works side by side, with their young kids helping them out. Young kids cleaning tables, sweeping the floor and even washing dishes in their family restaurants is part of a family owned restaurant culture in the US. Is this child labor? In a way, yes, but in moderation this is a good way. The kids are learning responsibility and in most cases the children's schooling and playtime is not interrupted.
In a country like Burkina Faso, working along-side the family in the fields is their culture and it sounds like the Fair Trade Commission takes this into consideration.