Female palm oil workers, Author benkataro, Source Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Generic)
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.
Roger Ailes (founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Fox News Channel) has stepped down in the face of a barrage of sexual harassment complaints by female employees. An investigation by parent corporation, 21st Century Fox, in response to a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, uncovered at least 20 similar claims, capped by that of star anchor, Megyn Kelly .
Fox has long been known for a frat boys atmosphere, so this is progress.
When I first thought about becoming a lawyer, there were only 3%-4% women in the American legal profession. At the first client gala I ever attended, the senior partner introduced me with the words, “This is the shape lawyers come in now.” At the first golf outing I ever attended, I could not join clients at the bar. It was restricted against women.
Conservatively attired in the most formal business suits I could find, I was in the early days routinely mistaken for witnesses, court reporters, and women from the services responsible for tracking court dates, until I identified myself as the lawyer on a case. I was paid less than my male counterparts, often working longer hours, but made partner at a time that was still a rare achievement for women.
Mind you, Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) had been the first woman lawyer to argue before the US Supreme Court a full century earlier. Continue reading