Sweatshop labor and fast fashion have unfortunately gone hand in hand ever since the first $10 T-shirt was perfectly folded and stacked in five different colors. Somehow, we here in the U.S. tend to forget that in order for the oh-so-affordable clothes we buy to cost so little, real people have to make them and be paid next-to-nothing, often working in deplorable conditions.
But what we may not have realized was the link between sweatshops and sex trafficking. VICE News just posted an in-depth look at sex workers in Cambodia — who are often also the women making the hoodies we’re buying. The career options for these women aren’t great, but many would rather work in the sex trade than as garment workers. Factories pay women the minimum wage — $80 a month — and the workers can barely afford to feed and house their children, much less buy them medicine. And the labor conditions are about as great as you’d expect from sweatshops. To make matters worse, women arrested for working in the sex trade are often forced to work in the factories by seemingly well-intentioned NGOs and the police. It’s either face harassment from law enforcement or go to the factory.
Watch the video to see just where the clothes are made and why women would rather be in the sex trade. It’s eye-opening and incredibly sad, to say the least, and gives us all something to think about the next time we want to buy a cheap piece of clothing.
- Alternatives to Fast Fashion: Here’s What It Takes to Make 100 Percent Ethical Clothing
- Here’s What You Need to Know About Cambodia’s Violent Garment Industry Protests
- Ethical Fashion: 5 Labels That Are Doing Everything Right
- Can Clothing be Cheap AND Ethical? H&M Says Yes
- Why Haven’t Big High-End Brands Embraced Ethical Fashion?