Palm oil is the most popular vegetable oil on earth, widely touted for its health and beauty benefits.
Palm oil is used in such everyday products as lipstick, shampoo, ice cream, chocolate, margarine, instant noodles, and pizza dough . Claims are made that palm oil can prevent cancer, stem heart disease, treat dementia, slow aging, and aid weight loss .
The uncontrolled clearing of rain forests for palm oil plantations has led to a significant loss in these bio-diverse habitats. Now, an investigation by the Associated Press has confirmed that the mistreatment of female palm oil workers in Malaysia and Indonesia is commonplace [4A]:
- Many women work without pay to help their husbands or fathers meet unrealistic daily quotas.
- Women routinely perform some of the industry’s most physically taxing jobs, sometimes carrying loads so heavy they can cause uterine collapse. Infertility, miscarriages, and stillbirths are the result.
- Women, also, spray dangerous pesticides without protective gear. Activists say some have lost their sight, as a consequence.
- Added to this, women frequently face sexual harassment. This can range from suggestive comments to outright rape. In fear for their jobs, victims rarely report such abusive interactions. Families may actually force victims to marry their rapists, if a pregnancy occurs.