They may be meant to show the world "What a Feminist Looks Like," but people might want to be less concerned with who's wearing the in vogue shirts and more focused on the women making them.
The "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" T-shirt gained widespread attention last week after British politicians and celebrities started donning the tops.
Love that you tweeted benedict and not your own pic! “@EmWatson: pic.twitter.com/JpwRYh2bgi”— ELLEUK (@ELLEUK) October 30, 2014
But as the British Daily Mail reported, it turns out the pricy garments come from a seemingly un-feminist environment: a sweatshop on the island of Mauritius where women making the shirts sleep 16 to a room and earn roughly $1 per hour.
Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. (Image via Google Maps)
The shirts are a product of fashion retailer Whistles, which sells the shirts for £45 (roughly $72) each.
Look who loves the feminist clutch! #LenaDunham ❤️ @thisiswhistles@fawcettsociety#ELLEfeminismpic.twitter.com/ZlGyyYoQfd— ELLEUK (@ELLEUK) October 29, 2014
According to the Daily Mail, the factory where the shirts are produced is owned by Compagnie Mauricienne de Textile, which pays workers 6,000 rupees, or less than $200, per month — about 1/4 of the Mauritius' average wage.
"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," said Fayzal Ally Beegun, president of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Union.
A Whistles spokesperson told the Daily Mail it places "a high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues. The allegations regarding the production of T-shirts in the CMT factory in Mauritius are extremely serious and we are investigating them as a matter of urgency."
Dr. Eva Neitzert, deputy chief executive at the Fawcett Society, the feminist group that promoted the shirts, said that Whistles initially told her organization the shirts would be made in the U.K., but that the Fawcett Society still went ahead with the partnership after learning the shirts were actually being made in Mauritius.
She maintained that "ethical standards" were being met.
"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," Neitzert told the Daily Mail.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Mauritius' per capita GDP is around $16,000 annually, while the U.K.'s per capita GDP tops $37,000 annually. The American per capita GDP is more than $52,000 each year.
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