According to the BBC, several of the leading tea brands in the UK, including PG Tips, Lipton, and Sainsbury’s Red Label, are supplied by tea farms where sexual slavery has been discovered.
More than 70 Kenyan women who worked on tea plantations for two British companies, Unilever and James Finlay & Co, told the BBC that their supervisors sexually abused them.
On fields managed by Unilever and James Finlay & Co., the hidden video recordings showed management pressuring an undercover reporter for sex.
Three managers have been suspended.
Similar accusations were made against Unilever over ten years ago, and as a result, the company implemented reporting mechanisms, a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment, and other steps.
However, a joint investigation by BBC Africa Eye and Panorama revealed that sexual harassment claims were not being taken seriously.
Since jobs are so hard to come by, several women told the BBC that their only choice was to give in to their employers’ sexual advances or risk going without pay.
As a result of being coerced into having sex with her boss, one lady claimed that she contracted HIV from him.
The BBC employed an undercover reporter named Katy who worked on the tea estates in order to acquire additional information about the accusations of sexual assault.
During Katy’s interview, which took place in a hotel room, one of the recruiters, John Chebochok, encouraged her to touch him and undress. He had been identified as a “predator” by numerous women who talked to the BBC.
In return for sexual favors, he gave her a job.
Katy made it apparent that she did not approve, and ultimately, a member of the production crew called her to give her an excuse to depart.
During her covert labor at a Unilever-run farm, Katy also encountered sexual harassment.
After reporting her supervisor’s actions, she never heard back about what was being done to stop him.
Unilever says it is “very startled and disturbed” by the claims.
The two managers have been suspended, and Lipton Teas and Infusions, the new owner of Unilever’s business in Kenya, has mandated a “full and impartial inquiry.”
Starbucks, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and other retailers, as well as James Finlay & Co., purchase Kenyan tea.
Tesco said that it takes the accusations “very seriously” and that it is in “continuous conversation” with Finlay’s to make sure “strong procedures” are implemented.
“These awful assertions have no place in our supply chain,” Sainsbury’s said.
On Monday, Starbucks also released a statement in which it expressed its “deep concern” and said that it has taken “urgent measures” to stop buying from James Finlay and Company in Kenya.