Body Shop founder's legacy: laws to protect kids

Thu Sep 29, 2011 7:10am EDT
 
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Four years after her death, a campaign sparked by Body Shop founder Anita Roddick has had surprising success in getting governments to agree to toughen up child protection laws, the campaign's manager Christopher Davis said in an interview.

The "Stop Sex Trafficking of Children" petition claims to have nudged 14 governments into changing their laws since it was launched three years ago and, with 7 million signatures so far, has high hopes of converting at least six more countries including Thailand to its cause.

"Anita Roddick signed off on it just before she passed away. It's a really good legacy for the woman who began business with a heart and business with a social conscience," Davis told Reuters at the United Nations in Geneva, where he was due to present the petition to a top human rights official on Thursday.

Although the campaign is aimed primarily at halting sex trafficking, its impact has been wider, prodding governments to consider signing up to treaties that aim to protect children worldwide.

As a result of the campaign, five countries have signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Davis described as a "gold standard" for child protection.

"It means you commit to a certain level of child protection so your local laws are to a high standard. And you commit every two years to tell the U.N. what you're doing. So it's a big deal. Rather than hiding away, you have to come back and talk about it."

The Body Shop, which was bought by L'Oreal in 2006, had its first big campaigning success in the late 1990s, when it pressured the British government to ban animal testing.

It still relies on shoppers to sign up for its campaigns as they browse shelves of soap and shampoo, and Davis said 95 percent of people backing the current campaign signed the petition in a shop, while 50,000 store staff have been trained to discuss the issue.   Continued...

 
<p>Shoppers walk into a Body Shop store in Covent Garden, central London in this March 17, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>