A young 13-year-old girl, Clarisse Kambire, bent over in a cotton field pictured above in my Photoshop 2-minute masterpiece, caught my attention as a father. When I hear about a child labor scandal involving a national corporation as large as Limited Brands, who owns Victoria’s Secret, and physically see photos of a young girl being forced to work and read a little of her daily life – I automatically go into rage mode.
If you’re a decent person, you’d hopefully generate empathy too with a question like, “What if that was my daughter/son?”. And damn that’s a scary thought as I safely sit in a comfortable chair behind an awesome computer.
As a U.S. citizen and sometimes consumer, I hate to say it but I’m not surprised at this story. It’d be nice to see products like this sh*t made in the USA and sold for 1/2 the price – but that will never happen. The sad fact is the Third World competes to survive off America while America focuses on profit, looking for world bargains, slowly drowning the middle class with corporation’s lust for greed. In 2006, Hanes was found to have exploited children in Bangladesh.
So now that Victoria has finally been exposed, their PR department has found themselves smack dap in the middle of a media sh*t-storm, stiff-arming all accusations of forced child labor so far. There’s no mistake that this is still happening, there’s no doubt it will continue to happen, but right now it’s happening in Burkina Faso.
Big ups to Bloomberg News for uncovering this story, spending more than six weeks reporting in Burkina Faso, including interviewing Clarisse, her family, neighbors and leaders in her village.
(Cam Simpson, Bloomberg) — Clarisse Kambire’s nightmare rarely changes. It’s daytime. In a field of cotton plants that burst with purple and white flowers, a man in rags towers over her, a stick raised above his head. Then a voice booms, jerking Clarisse from her slumber and making her heart leap. “Get up!”
The man ordering her awake is the same one who haunts the 13-year-old girl’s sleep: Victorien Kamboule, the farmer she labors for in a West African cotton field. Before sunrise on a November morning she rises from the faded plastic mat that serves as her mattress, barely thicker than the cover of a glossy magazine, opens the metal door of her mud hut and sets her