Ladies Report Abuse, Human Trafficking and Rape on Palm Oil Plantations: AP Investigation

The Associated Press on Monday revealed a harrowing in-depth investigation into rape and abuse in palm oil fields in Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia, which together produce 85 percent of the world’s most versatile vegetable oil.

“Palm oil is found in potato chips and pills to pet foods, and it also 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 all over the world to feel pampered and beautiful, ”reported the AP.

It was “the first comprehensive investigation to focus on the brutal treatment of women in the manufacture of palm oil, including the hidden scourge of sexual abuse, which ranged from verbal harassment to threats to rape. This is part of a more in-depth look at the industry that has uncovered widespread abuses in both countries, including human trafficking, child labor, and outright slavery. “

“Almost every plantation has work-related issues,” said Hotler Parsaoran of Sawit Watch, an Indonesian nonprofit group that has conducted extensive investigations into palm oil abuse. “But the conditions for women workers are far worse than for men.”

More than three dozen women and girls from at least 12 companies in Indonesia and Malaysia were interviewed for the AP investigation. They secretly met with female AP reporters at their barracks or in hotels, cafes or churches, sometimes late at night, usually without men so they could speak openly, the AP reported.

According to the Ministry for the Advancement of Women, an estimated 7.6 million women work on plantations in Indonesia, which is about half of the total workforce. In Malaysia there are a large number of foreign migrants working on the books and therefore the total number of women working on plantations is unknown.

“I’ve been on a plantation from birth until now,” said a worker nicknamed Indra for fear of reprisals.

“The location of the palm oil plantations makes it an ideal crime scene for rape,” said Aini Fitri, an Indonesian official with the government’s women’s and children’s office in West Kalimantan Province. “In the dark it could be dangerous for people, especially women, but also because it’s so quiet and remote. The crime can happen even in the middle of the day. “

The AP investigation goes into greater detail on the beauty brands and other products that contain palm oil, including Girl Scout cookies. Read more here.

The @AP investigation links child labor in the palm oil industry to the supply chains of popular food brands such as Oreos, Pop-Tarts, KitKat candy bars and Girl Scout cookies. Produced with the support of @mcgrawcenter

– The Associated Press (@AP) December 29, 2020

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