Greed, Sex Slavery and Forced Abortions—Made in the USA
Posted on Apr 24, 2006
Ms. Magazine documents quasi-endentured servitude in garment factories in the Northern Mariana Islands—which, because they’re a territory of the U.S., labels their clothes “Made in the USA.” The surprise: Jack Abramoff facilitated the situation.
That expensive blouse you’re wearing? It may have been sewn by a Filipina garment worker laboring in a factory owned by a Hong Kong mogul on a western Pacific island. The Northern Mariana Islands, a territory of the United States, offers the possibility of an American label—Made in Saipan (USA), Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA), or simply Made in USA—to garment manufacturers, and throws in a unique exemption from U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws.
Anti-sweatshop leaders and some members of Congress have long sought to increase wages and protect the islands’ garment workers, most of whom are women, from what amounts to indentured servitude. But their efforts were repeatedly stalled in Congress. And who was among the biggest opponents of reform? None other than the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose tentacles reached deep into House Republican leadership. And who was one of the loudest congressional cheerleaders against reform? Tom DeLay, who praised the islands as “a petri dish of capitalism.”
From Ms. magazine
In an investigation, Ms. Magazine documented “what amounts to indentured servitude on the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas: substandard living and dangerous working conditions, forced abortions, and a declining labor market that has left many women few options than to be trafficked into the sex trade.”