By Hunter King
An investigative reporter working with Aljazeera has exposed that children are sewing Old Navy clothing in a deathtrap factory in Bangladesh. Here's the three-minute video clip.
The full "Made In Bangladesh" video (25 min), premiered Tuesday, August 20, 2013. It will air again on Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 7p and 10p ET.
"Made In Bangladesh" shows children as young as twelve inserting waistbands into jeans sporting Old Navy labels at Samie’s Finishing House in Dhaka. Gap Inc, which owns Old Navy, has responded to the child labor allegations by denying any relationship with Samie’s Finishing House, asserting a commitment to ensure safe and legal working conditions, and claiming that the clothing shown must be “either counterfeit or improperly acquired by the facility.” One must wonder, however, why a counterfeit clothing operation would have sales-tags with barcodes that perfectly matched those on garments sold at Old Navy stores in the US. Gap Inc’s defensive claims, while highly suspect, are not entirely surprising.
Child labor has been uncovered in Gap's supply chain before. In 2007, children as young as ten were found producing clothing for Gap Kids in a factory in India. Gap responded to the 2007 incident by promising to double its efforts to improve its subcontracting procedures. Given this latest exposé, clearly those efforts are at best insufficient and at worst, half hearted. Gap’s knee-jerk response of deny, deny, deny reveals that the company is more concerned with protecting its brand image than with acknowledging the failures of its monitoring programs and pursuing meaningful measures to prevent the exploitation of children in its supply chains.
Hunter King is a Smith College graduate who is interning with the International Labor Rights Forum this summer and embarking on a Fulbright fellowship in Sri Lanka in the fall.