Feminist T-shirt caught in sweatshop controversy

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Feminist T-Shirt Caught Up in Sweatshop Controversy

A U.K. women's rights charity behind a popular pro-feminism T-shirt has vowed to investigate claims the shirts are produced in sweatshop conditions.

The shirts, which are a collaboration between the Fawcett Society and Elle magazine, sell for £45, or more than $70 each, with all the profits going to the charity.

But a Mail On Sunday investigation revealed the shirts are produced on the island of Mauritius by migrant women. They are allegedly forced to sleep 16 to a room and paid just $1 per hour -- around a quarter of the country's average wage.

The factory produces 40 million shirts a year for clients including Topshop and Urban Outfitters.

The feminist shirts gained publicity after celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and politicians Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg were photographed wearing them. Prime Minister David Cameron controversially refused to join the campaign.

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This is what a feminist looks like
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Feminist T-shirt caught in sweatshop controversy
HELLO EVERYBODY! I UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PICTURE ISN'T GREAT, BUT THERE IS AN ISSUE AT HAND. I WORE A SHIRT WITH THE WORD "FEMINIST" ON IT. OUR SCHOOL TOOK A PICTURE OF OUR GRADE TO HANG UP IN THE SCHOOL. TODAY, I FOUND OUT THEY BLACKED OUT MY SHIRT. I WENT TO OUR PRINCIPAL AND SHE CLAIMED IT WAS "OFFENSIVE" AND SHE "DIDN'T WANT IT IN THE PHOTO" THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 17TH 2015, IS THE DAY MY PROTEST TAKES PLACE. EVERYONE PARTICIPATING WILL BE WEARING A SHIRT WITH A PHRASE LIKE "I DESERVE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION" OR "FEMINISM ISN'T OFFENSIVE" OR ANYTHING THAT YOU BELIEVE FITS! PLEASE MAKE A SHIRT AND JOIN US AND HELP TAKE CARE OF THIS ISSUE. PLEASE REPOST AND SPREAD EVERYWHERE USING THE HASHTAG #IDESERVEFREEDOMOFEXPRESSION THANK YOU!
After the 'This Is What A Feminist Looks Like' sweatshirt? We have good news for you http://t.co/HTdC8xYkFM http://t.co/ZjfJfbk2PI
My feed is all Benedict wearing a 'this is what a feminist looks like' and it is so beautiful and here have it again http://t.co/0w1K4YH1u8
Your $70 "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt was made in a sweat shop by women who make $1/hour. http://t.co/f7y7R6ZthG
#TomHiddleston wearing the ' This is what a feminist looks like ' T-shirt HANDSOME! ..... http://t.co/kZI5yOUp1k http://t.co/jYxl9nEPFC
http://t.co/PMyJpixo7n this '''movement''' is gross and ridiculous but do these people not know that a lot of shirts are made in sweatshops
The full 'this is what a feminist looks like' range has landed! And Lena Dunham is a fan... http://t.co/pwHeZhbUbL http://t.co/zMQyqjDocO
Marvellous feminist t-shirts 3) This is what a feminist looks like ... http://t.co/oJMk9r1qPR http://t.co/PY1zPVY40K
I so enjoyed the campaign around 'this is what a feminist looks like.' Stereotype smashing indeed! #welead http://t.co/4vF1Xi84xo
THIS is what a #feminist looks like. @DonMcPherson on #OfficeHours in 10: http://t.co/B0Cn4TKW2n http://t.co/ZBi8JAutCK
Photo Credit: UK House of Commons
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Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman drew even more attention to the issue after wearing the shirt in the House of Commons during the prime minister's questions.

The shirts are produced by high-street fashion chain Whistles, though the chain has taken the item down from its website.

The Fawcett Society responded to the allegations in a statement saying Whistles assured the charity the shirts were produced to "ethical standards." It added if there is evidence the workers were mistreated, "We will require Whistles to withdraw the range with immediate effect and donate part of the profits to an ethical trading campaigning body."

A Labour party spokesman refused to address the issue, only saying the party is happy to support a campaign to promote feminism.

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