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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Girls, as young as 11 sold to Indian plantation that supplies tea to Tetley

An investigation has astonished an Indian tea company. It has been learned that girls as 11 years of age had been abducted and trafficked to an Indian plantation that supplies tea to Tetley. Further investigation had revealed that the girls had been sold -- for life - as domestic servants.

A 19-year-old girl sold into slavery at a tea plantation is tearfully reunited with her father.

A 19-year-old girl sold into slavery at a tea plantation is tearfully reunited with her father.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Tetley, trafficking, tea, girls, slaves


LOS ANGELES, ca (Catholic Online) - Rescued from the Nahorani estate in Assam, the company was owned by a consortium that includes Tetley's parent company, Tata Global Beverages and the World Bank's investment arm. Workers there had been paid 94 rupees a day, which is barely half the 169 rupee legal minimum wage for Assam.

Anti-slavery advocates say the low wages help traffickers lure their victims away with the promise of a better life elsewhere.

Auditing by the Ethical Tea Partnership, which certifies estates for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Twinings and Mars Drinks, failed to detect the trafficking.

At least 21 people in forced servitude were rescued in a series of raids.

One 19-year-old woman was found with minutes to spare after she called her father to say the traffickers were threatening to sell her into prostitution in Bombay.

The girl described how she had suffered serious abuse and spoke angrily about the traffickers who lured her from Nahorani. "They should realize that they cannot separate daughters from their parents and make us fools. They speak lies and make us fools. They cheat us," she said.

Little has changed after tea companies promised action after it was first exposed to the slave trade from Assam's tea estates last year.

"The owners of these international tea estates don't care for these people, they don't pay them minimum wages. Forget about the decent wages, they don't pay the survival wages," Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan child rescue movement, which helped to free the girls, said. He also says that companies have to take on some responsibility. "The reality is abuse, the reality is a kind of sexual exploitation, the reality is endless slavery," he said.

Tetley is the United Kingdom's most popular tea brand, and is ranked second in the U.S. and the rest of the world. The company says 45 million cups of Tetley are drunk in 70 countries worldwide every day.

It must be noted that there is no suggestion that Tetley was aware of any slavery or trafficking. In its mission statement, Tetley insists: "We don't just do as we like. We do what's right for our tea drinkers, our team and our world. We believe our success must not be at the expense of the people or the environment that make that success possible."

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