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Tags: forced labor | sweat shops | world | clothing | trade

Report: Unusual Pleas From Victims of Forced Labor Rising

interior view of a Chinese electronics assembly factory with girls working and assembling parts
(Dreamstime/Hugo Maes)

By    |   Thursday, 26 December 2019 09:34 PM EST

Desperate pleas for help from alleged forced labor victims half-way across the globe — and hidden in pockets, purses, and holiday cards destined for the West — have become increasingly common, Business Insider reported.

The latest missive, reportedly found by a youngster in South London, was found in a Christmas card bought at a U.K. grocery store chain — and begged for help for a prissier at the Shanghai Qingpu prison in China. 

"We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison China," the message said, according to The Sunday Times. "Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization."

According to BI, international retailers like Zara, Walmart, and Kmart have dealt with backlash from similar notes discovered in products sold at their stores as well.

Here are some examples compiled by BI of the cries for help:

— In September 2012, an Australian woman found a note inside a handbag she bought from Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, DNAinfo reported at the time.

The note was from a man identified as Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, who claimed he was forced to work 13-hour days at a Chinese prison factory. A small photo of a man in an orange jacket was also enclosed in the bag.

— In 2014, a woman from Northern Ireland said she found a note in a pair of pants from UK fast-fashion retailer Primark alleging slave labor conditions at the Xiang Nan prison in China's central Hubei province, Amnesty International reported.

"Our job inside the prison is to produce fashion clothes for export. We work 15 hours per day and the food we eat wouldn't even be given to dogs or pigs," the note said in Chinese.

— In 2017, notes started appearing inside the pockets of Zara garments in Istanbul, Turkey, claiming to have been made using unpaid labor, the BBC reported.

The messages claimed workers at the Bravo Tekstil factory in Turkey were not compensated.

"I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn't get paid for it," one note read.

— In October 2012, a woman in Oregon named Julie Keith found a note inside a pack of Halloween decorations bought at US retailer Kmart, The New York Times reported.

The note said workers in China "toiled seven days a week, their 15-hour days haunted by sadistic guards," and asked the buyer to resend the letter to international human-rights activists, The Times reported.

— In March 2017, an Arizona woman claimed she found a message in the bottom of a purse she had bought from Walmart, according to Vox. The purse was made in China.

"Inmates in China's Yingshan Prison work 14 hours a day and are not allowed to rest at noon," the note said, according to Vox. "We have to work overtime until midnight. People are beaten for not finishing their work."

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Hidden in pockets, purses, and holiday cards destined for the West, desperate pleas for help from alleged forced labor victims half-way across the globe have become increasingly common, according to Business Insider.
forced labor, sweat shops, world, clothing, trade
Thursday, 26 December 2019 09:34 PM
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