News in! Victoria Secret, Burkina Faso and Fairtrade cotton – Child Labour Allegations

Posted on December 19, 2011

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image copyright Africa Focus - University of Wisconsin-Madison - African woman picking cotton

Some of you my have heard about this already about  recent article published by Bloomberg alleging that Victoria’s Secret has used Fairtrade and organic cotton from farms in Burkina Faso that use children to work on picking cotton. Please click to see the story here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-15/victoria-s-secret-revealed-in-child-picking-burkina-faso-cotton.html.

According to WFTO 10 principles that Fair Trade organisations must comply too (and what 10 principles we at Africa Fashion Guide promote and support) when it comes to child labour this stands against these 10 principles.

Principle Five:  Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor

The organization adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. The organization ensures that there is no forced labor in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers.

Organizations who buy Fair Trade products from producer groups either directly or through intermediaries ensure that no forced labor is used in production and the producer complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. Any involvement of children in the production of Fair Trade products (including learning a traditional art or craft) is always disclosed and monitored and does not adversely affect the children’s well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play.

(source: www.wfto.com)

SO of course it is causing a lot of controversy but we felt as promoters and supporters of the full supply chain of Africa’s fashion and textile industry that we should highlight this being in the news and to encourage you to follow the story through and to make your conclusions based on facts and findings.

fairtrade logo

At present full and immediate investigations by both. Helvetas (a Swiss development organisation that supports projects on organic cotton in Africa and Central Asia) and Fairtrade International who you will find mentioned in the article are being conducted.

So far the Helvetas response has been issued and can be accessed here: http://www.helvetas.ch/wFrancais/news/2011_12_16_coton_bio_burkina.asp, and Fairtrade International statement can be read here: http://www.fairtrade.net/single_view1.html?&cHash=1e673f238300da6950d1e11cc9a633ca&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=264.

For some of you all this talk about cotton projects, child labour and fairtrade may be all new to you. Part of our plans for 2012 is to bring you (along with the launch of our new blog – info coming soon!) is to break down the terminologies and explain these in more details with a focus and profile on various organisations you should know about to help you make responsible purchases and sourcing decisions for yourself and/or your business.

Author: Jacqueline Shaw

Posted in: Textiles