Where do your clothes really come from?

Forced labour is an ongoing problem in the fashion industy

A few months ago I wrote a blog about the sustainable fashion, as a clothes lover and human rights activist it’s imperative to know that my clothes are coming from a sustainable environment devoid of sweat shop workers and unsafe working conditions.

With all this in mind, it’s safe to assume that the story I read on the weekend shook me to my core.  Lucy Kirk’s father purchased a pair of socks from Primark, a department store that sells fashion for all ages and homewares. In those socks was a note by a man named Ting Kun Ding.

Ting Kun Ding, from the Anhui province in Eastern China, alleges that he has been in prison since June 29 2015 after he reported cases of corruption by the local government. He has been tortured mentally and physically while his wife has been detained in a mental institution and his father was murdered during a stay in hospital. He writes of slave labour and how the local government is not adhering to the policies and procedures of the federal government.

Ting Kun Ding has one objective – to have his story in the media so that it can get back to President Xi Jinping in the hope that he will get involved and stop the use of slave labour.

Infuriatingly, this is not the first letter of its type to turn up in Primark clothes. In 2011 another letter was found in a pair of pants headlined “SOS SO SOS“. The letter discovered spoke about 15 hour work days, men working their fingers “to the bone” and eating food that is not fit for human consumption.

Primark are looking into both notes and there are also rumours of a third letter being discovered in Ireland however I was unable to verify the content, though one can only imaging the story is the same.

So what can we all do to stop this from happening? What can we do to help?

Quite simply, learn about the clothes you wear. Do your research and buy local brands.  Have a read of the Australian Fashion Report which divides up fashion labels that implement policies and procedures to manage workers’ rights, monitor conditions and trace raw materials through the entire supply chain.

For more information feel free to contact me – I’ve done a lot of research into the brands of clothes I buy and am more than happy to share that info.

You can contact Liz at Vital Consult on 0481 091 685 or via email on admin@vitalconsult.com.au.

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