The latest issue of Ms magazine includes an investigative report into the situation of women garment workers in the Northern Mariana Islands. “Our research team 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,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. magazine.
Some 30,000 temporary “guestworkers” Ñ predominantly women Ñ from China, the Philippines, and Thailand sew clothing for top-name American brands, which are then allowed to label the clothes Made in Saipan (USA), Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA), or simply Made in USA, because the Marianas are a US territory. But workers in these factories are not protected by basic US fair labor laws.
Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist, worked on behalf of the Marianas government and its garment industry to ensure that Congress would not pass laws to upgrade wages and working conditions for immigrant laborers. One of Abramoff’s strongest Congressional allies was Tom DeLay, who went so far as to call the Marianas “a perfect Petri dish of Ôcapitalism’.” “A place that fosters forced abortions and sex trafficking? So much for the pious moralism often preached by both these men,” said Spillar.
LEARN MORE For more on this exclusive Ms. investigative article, pick up Ms. magazine on a newsstand near you.