On Tuesday, Ivanka Trump spoke at the 2017 United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, calling it a "clarion call into action in defense of the vulnerable and the exploited.”
Thousands of miles away, in a Chinese factory used by Trump's fashion brand, workers slaved away for long hours on high heels and booties, struggling through miserable conditions for low wages.
The Ganzhou Huajian International Shoe City Co., the factory behind the building of Ivanka Trump brand shoes, has a reputation of human rights violations among activist groups. Employees describe working well past midnight to meet unreasonable production quotas for wages far below China's labor law requirements. If they do not meet these impossible targets, their pay is docked.
Workers also allege that beatings are a normal occurrence, but three who spoke with The Associated Press described an incident last year in which a manager battered an employee with the sharp end of a high heel. They say it stood out for its violence.
"He was bleeding right from the middle of the head,” one worker remembered.
"There was a lot of blood. He went to the factory’s nurse station, passing by me,” said another man, a former employee who quit his job at Huajian because of the subpar working conditions.
At the TIP report, China was classified as one of the worst countries in the world in terms of human trafficking.
Li Qiang, who has investigated labor violations for almost two decades and founded New York-based human rights group China Labor Watch, told the AP that the Huajian's Ganzhou factory has some of the worst working conditions he's heard of. In May, three activists working for the group infiltrated the factory as part of a larger investigation into Ivanka Trump's Chinese partnerships and how brand employees were treated. The men were accused of trying to steal industry secrets and kept at a detention center in southeastern China, but The New York Times reports that on Wednesday they were released on bail until trial.
China Labor Watch compiled its discoveries in a letter, which it then sent to Ivanka Trump at the White House in May, as well as other fashion labels that use Huajian's Ganzhou factory. They also forwarded Trump a video of a factory manager verbally abusing an employee, seemingly for arranging shoes incorrectly.
While a few brands like Ann Taylor and Marc Fisher have said that they take the findings seriously and are looking into the allegations, the group says they have gotten no response from brands like Naturalizer, Nine West, Tory Burch, BCBG Max Azria, Jessica Simpson, and Ivanka Trump.
While Trump has divested herself from her brand, she still has ownership stakes in it. Furthermore, she is the daughter of President Donald Trump, a position with no small amount of influence despite her claims that she tries "to stay out of politics."
So she stands before a room full of politicians and bureaucrats, providing lip service for issues she'll never take a stand on while impoverished people sew her name into shoes oceans away.