The Victoria’s Secret brand can get some folks to get all hot and bothered — and not for the reasons you think. Bloomberg Markets magazine reports that “underage, mistreated African children have been forced to plant and pick organic, fair-trade cotton used in some of the company’s underwear,” as USA Today notes.
The magazine’s investigative report tells the story of seven children in Burkina Faso who work on the farms that Victoria’s Secret buys cotton from. The story starts with the distressing life of 13-year-old cotton-picker Clarisse Kambire, who is whipped with a tree branch if her production is deemed to be too slow by the man overseeing her work.
The company that owns Victoria’s Secret, Limited Brands, responded in a statement that it’s conducting its own investigation into the claims. “If this allegation is true, it describes behavior that is contrary to our company’s values and the code of labor and sourcing standards that we require all of our suppliers to meet. These standards expressly prohibit child labor,” Limited Brands said. “Depending on the findings, we are prepared to take swift action to prevent the illegal use of child labor in the fields where we source Fairtrade-certified organic cotton in Burkina Faso.”