When reaching into her paper bag to look for a receipt, Saks shopper Stephanie Wilson found a handwritten note. The dispatch, penned by prison laborer Tohnain Emmanuel Njong, and reported by DNAinfo, was a cry for help, and listed the psychological abuse, long work hours, and lack of outside communication endured at government-ordained sweatshops. Known as laogai in China, which translates to "labor reform school," the camps often imprison outspoken anti-establishment political figures. Njong himself was charged with fraud (though he claims innocence).
A spokesperson for Saks said the company has begun investigations to determine the specific origins of these shopping bags. When it comes to merchandise, the department store is a supporter of fair labor, and it carries certain products as part of an ethical fashion program. However, this case shows that the industry's unethical production standards go beyond just clothing; it's shopping bags, garment racks, paper tags, plastic wrappers, and so much more.
Head over to DNAinfo for an exclusive interview with Njong. (DNAinfo)