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Jasmine collected by children in Egypt was used for these luxury perfumes

The BBC clandestinely filmed footage in the summer of 2023 showing children picking jasmine in Egypt for a supplier to L’Oréal and Estée Lauder. The latter assure that they are taking measures against this forced child labor.

Perfumes that smell of forced child labor. This is what we can say in front of the images filmed by the BBC in the summer of 2023. We see small children picking flowers in the jasmine fields. At the time of filming they were employed by a supplier of L’Oréal and Estée Lauder.

Child labor behind the best-selling perfumes of international brands

In his documentary The dark secret of perfume, the BBC traced the supply chain of the giants of the perfume industry. On the trail of an Egyptian supplier (which produces half of the world’s jasmine), British public media have discovered that dozens of miners are working to harvest it.

Often it is to help the parents who participate in this work, in the Gharbeya region, in the heart of the Egyptian jasmine production area. They are mostly women. independent collectors » who work on small farms. These supply beauty giants such as L’Oréal or Estée Lauder, the documentary illustrates. Working in contact with pesticides and mosquitoes, many develop allergies, or worse.

5 year old children working night shifts for less than 1 euro per kg of harvested flowers

Among the families followed by the BBC cameras is Heba, a mother of four children aged 5 to 15, who help her pick flowers at night, before dawn (the sun damages the flower), for a paltry salary. One night of harvesting, from which 1.5 kilos of jasmine are obtained, fruit costs just 1.40 euros. It is precisely this low price, in a context of terrible inflation, that pushes children to work, while bottles of perfume from the main Western brands cost hundreds of euros.

Heba's youngest son picks jasmine flowers with his mother at night before going to kindergarten
In the BBC documentary we see 5-year-old Anas picking flowers with his mother from 3am to 6am, before going to nursery.

The suppliers of the latter (Givaudan, Symrise, IFF and Firmenich), contacted by the BBC, say they are already working to improve transparency and the living conditions of the communities that supply them. Estée Lauder and L’Oréal also said they had already changed suppliers, as well as having increased vigilance on respect for human rights and against child labour. Hence the importance of turning to perfume houses that are attentive to the traceability of their raw materials.


Listen to Apéro des Daronnes, Madmoizelle’s show that aims to break down taboos on parenting.

Source: Madmoizelle

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