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Rape, abuses in palm oil fields linked to top beauty brands

18 November 2020

Palm oil … ends up in the supply chains of some of the biggest names in the $530 billion beauty business, including L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon and Johnson & Johnson, helping women around the world feel pampered and beautiful.

The Associated Press conducted the first comprehensive investigation focusing on the brutal treatment of women in the production of palm oil, including the hidden scourge of sexual abuse, ranging from verbal harassment and threats to rape…

Women are burdened with some of the industry’s most difficult and dangerous jobs…

The Malaysian government said it had received no reports about rapes on plantations, but Indonesia acknowledged physical and sexual abuse appears to be a growing problem, with most victims afraid to speak out…

In both countries, the AP found generations of women from the same families who have served as part of the industry’s backbone…

That ensures the generational cycle endures, maintaining a cheap, built-in workforce.

… Union representatives, health workers, government officials and lawyers said some of the worst examples they encountered involved gang rapes and children as young as 12 being taken into the fields and sexually assaulted by plantation foremen.

While Indonesia has laws in place to protect women from abuse and discrimination, Rafail Walangitan of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection said he was aware of many problems identified by the AP on palm oil plantations, including child labor and sexual harassment.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development said it hadn’t received complaints about the treatment of women laborers so had no comment…

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