In a new investigative report published at the Mail on Sunday, a reporter discovered that women in Mauritius who were hired to make shirts that read "This is what a feminist looks like" have been paid roughly a dollar an hour to do so and sleep in dormitories that house 16 women at a time.
The shirts, which are sold in conjunction with Fawcett Society (whose slogan is "Working for women's rights since 1886") and have been worn by everyone from Simon Pegg to Nick Clegg to British politician Harriet Harman, are made by migrant women who make a quarter of the average monthly salary in Mauritius.
Via the Mail on Sunday:
Fayzal Ally Beegun, president of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Union said: 'The workers in this factory are treated very poorly and the fact that politicians in England are making a statement using these sweatshop T-shirts is appalling.
'It would take a woman working in the factory nearly two weeks just to buy one shirt. What is feminist about that? These women have nothing in this world. They are paid a pittance and any money they do receive they send back home.
'They work very long hours and have no lives other than their work. They are on four-year contracts that mean they don't get to see their families in that time. What kind of existence is it when you are sharing your bedroom with 15 other women?'
During a factory tour, the Mail reporter learned that the factory can produce 300 of the feminist t-shirts for roughly $14 when the shirts themselves are sold in the UK for £45 or roughly $70 individually.
Fawcett Society, the organization responsible for selling the t-shirts, issued a statement on Saturday in response to the exposé:
"We have been very disappointed to hear the allegations that conditions in the Mauritius factory may not adhere to the ethical standards that we, as the Fawcett Society, would require of any product that bears our name. At this stage, we require evidence to back up the claims being made by a journalist at the Mail on Sunday. However, as a charity that campaigns on issues of women's economic equality, we take these allegations extremely seriously and will do our utmost to investigate them."
The full statement, which can be read here, explains that Fawcett Society reached out to Whistles, the store where the shirts are sold, who explained that the manufacturer is "fully audited, socially and ethical compliant factory," though Fawcett Society claims they will continue to investigate.
[Image via The Daily Mail]