Heineken launches investigation into promo girls sexual harassment

Heineken Experience, Amsterdam
A long line of bottles at the Heineken Experience in AmsterdamAndyBryantWikimedia Commons

Dutch beer giant Heineken launched an investigation into the sexual harassment and -abuse of promotion girls in 14 African countries, CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer announced at a shareholders' meeting on Friday, NOS reports

This topic made headlines last month when investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen published his book Bier voor Afrika. In it he revealed that girls promoting Heineken in Africa are sexually harassed and abused on a large scale. They are forced to wear provocative clothing, are not allowed to spurn customers' advances, and some managers expect the girls to go to bed with them, he wrote.

Heineken admits that such abuses occur. Promotion girls are often not employed by Heineken itself, but work for companies the beer company hires. 

In anticipation of the investigation's results, Heineken already drew up 'seven principles' which have to improve the working conditions for promotion girls. "Consider, for example, rules in the area of clothing, working hours, but also a ban on drinking with bar visitors. And also training on how to handle difficult situations, or very practical matters such as transport to and from the promotion location", a spokesperson for the beer company said to NOS. 

If it is determined that the abuses continue, Heineken will immediately stop using promotion girls, the beer company said. The first results of the investigation are expected late in June. 

Heineken uses around 20 thousand promo girls worldwide. 

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