A shocking expose of child brutality in a Bangladeshi factory apparently providing clothes for UK stores is to be broadcast tonight on ITV.
Two female assembly-line workers go undercover in Dhaka sweatshops to film children as young as 12 being beaten and verbally abused.
In one, a production line manager brandishing a used fabric roll is heard shouting at one of the young girls: “Hey whore. You daughter of a pig. I’ll stick this inside you.”
In other distressing scenes girls are seen being slapped across the face, beaten, kicked and verbally threatened.
The clandestine filming took place in two cramped and noisy factories in the Bangladeshi capital. In the building where managers meted out violence to young workers, Lee Cooper branded jeans can be seen. The second factory, filmed with its fire exits locked, featured clothes with BHS and Manchester-based company JD Williams branding.
One of the workers who concealed a camera for the ITV Exposure documentary explained her reasons for taking part: “It’s really important people know what we are going through, because they don’t know what we do. They only see that we make clothes. They don’t know about the working conditions in this country. How we do our work. How much we suffer. We are doing this to let the world know.”
Her colleague said of her factory experience: “About 40 children are aged between 11 and 15. Their family situation is really bad, which is why they work in the garment factories. The children said after they meet their targets, they immediately have to do more work. They don’t give them any time to go to the toilet. If they make one mistake they get slapped, kicked or they get fired.”
The film, made in the aftermath of last year’s Dhaka garment factory collapse which killed more than 1100 people, is presented by ITV’s former business editor Laura Kuenssberg. She says: “During our investigation we gathered evidence of violence against children, locked fire exits and crumbling buildings in factories making cheap clothes for the fashion industry. Big changes are required before we can fully trust that the clothes we buy with a “Made in Bangladesh” label are produced in safe and humane conditions.”
JD Williams has told ITV that the factory filmed was not authorised to make its shirts. BHS says although some of its shirts were shown stored at the factory, no production took place there, and Lee Cooper say the jeans in the film were either counterfeit or manufactured as the result of an unauthorised production order.
Exposure: Fashion Factories Undercover will air on ITV at 10.35pm, Thursday