- REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Human rights activists have linked the Kardashians to foreign sweatshops, and calls to boycott their products are growing.
The multimillion-dollar Kardashian label is again threatened after an ongoing investigation has found that many of their products are manufactured in deplorable sweatshops, according to Star magazine.
The Kardashians, who star in a series of E! network reality shows, reportedly earned $65 million dollars last year, and sources now estimate the Kardashian empire to be worth $500 million.
Human rights activists are investigating a number of the family's products, including some under the Kris Jenner Kollection line and Kim Kardashian’s ShoeDazzle line.
“The Kardashians are in bed with some pretty bad people...Not only are celebrities like the Kardashians taking advantage of these workers, they are holding hands with a government that spits on democracy and women’s rights,” said executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights Charles Kernaghan.
The products in question, which are manufactured in parts of China, are reportedly made by workers as young as 16 who are subject to excruciating working conditions and face inhumane treatment, according to sources.
Sweatshops in areas like Guangdong simply disregard government regulations and place workers in unbearably hot and filthy working environments that Kernaghan describes as being "like minimum-security prisons.”
Monthly wages are reportedly often as low as $15 and up to $1 an hour, with employees constantly working in fear.
“People like the Kardashians are producing their products in China because they will get more profit, since the labor cost is so low compared to the United States and other countries,” executive director of China Labor Watch, Li Qiang explained.
In lieu of the investigation, Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, 56, quickly defended the alleged sweatshops. Although Jenner admitted she has never actually visited any of the factories in question, she insisted that they are not "terrible," according to TMZ.
"As far as I know the factories that are used to manufacture the Kardashian clothing and shoes have nothing terrible going on at all and the factories are very well policed and meet factory standards," Jenner told TMZ.
Since the announcement of Kim Kardashian's divorce from NBA star Kris Humphries, a growing number of critics have called for a Kardashian boycott, and this newest controversy has sparked further criticism.
A representative for Boycott The Kardashians said the group is "not surprised by the latest findings,” and that the Kardashians’ use of sweatshops “boils down to greed.”
"When you decide to put your name on something at the level that the Kardashians are at, vetting the suppliers should be something you have done. It should show people that it's more about money than it is about quality of the products," the group said in an email to The Christian Post.
Since news broke of the alleged slave labor, fans have flocked to the group's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BoycottRealityTV to vent their anger.
Kernaghan says enough is enough and asks that the Kardashians, often criticized for the over-the-top consumption displayed on their reality shows, disassociate themselves from unethical business practices.
“Kim has been very fortunate, but it’s time for her and her family to treat these workers with respect,” Kernaghan said.
"If she took a stand and said, ‘I want to manufacture my products in Chicago or Los Angeles, where I can ensure people humane conditions,’ she would be taking the right stand," he added.
The Christian Post spoke directly with China Labor Watch, who said, "If they [Kardashians] don't stop endorsing these products or do anything to improve the conditions in the factories, they are send a message to the public saying, 'we will do anything to make money.'"