How to Analyze Violations of the Right to Food

Global hunger and food insecurity are complicated, messy issues. And although the right to food is a human right grounded in international law, lawyers and activists struggle when trying to document violations of that right. Too many reports lack nuance or a human rights framework, arguing simplistically that people in …

Who is a Farmer? {Guest Post by Braam Hanekom}

How important is terminology? When we choose to call some people who work the land “farmers,” while labeling others as “farmworkers,” what power are we according them?  In Ripe with Abuse, I carefully distinguished between “farmers” and “farmworkers,” using the former to refer to someone who owned the land, and …

You Can’t Spin Away Labor Exploitation

Last week, I wedged myself into a crowded church in rural South Africa, listening to farmworkers recite a litany of complaints about working conditions on their farms. As people spoke, the farmworkers kept coming, in pairs and small groups, trickling in after Sunday services or other commitments. After over an …

On Enforcement

Labor laws are only as good as their monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. I was reminded of this the other day when reading an article in the South African Sunday Times, which stated that the grocery chain Woolworths was investigating claims of abuse and unfair labor practices on one of its …

What is Tyson Foods Doing in Rwanda?

At a restaurant in Kigali the other night, the long table next to mine was filled with 14 loud Americans. I heard snippets of their conversation:  an anecdote about slaughtering animals, some business talk, stories from back home. I finally realized that they were there with Tyson Foods Inc., one …

Striking Farmworkers in South Africa

I’m not a member of a union. If you speak about union, you will lose [your] job or [be] treated bad. – Human Rights Watch interview with “Kiersten H.,” Grabouw, South Africa, 2010, from “Ripe with Abuse.“ One of the ironies that struck me while working with farmworkers in South …