Brassieres without borders

I never thought I’d be writing again about the controversial subject of underwear so soon. The last post, about an initiative to donate underwear to underprivileged Kenyans, generated some heat in the comments sections. Well, things have definitely gotten worse (hat tip to Solarafrica):

The group of nearly 2,000 women were attempting to break the record for the world’s biggest single donation of bras. They gathered outside the Wales Millennium Centre to deliver the brassieres to Oxfam, to help the charity’s ongoing fairtrade project in Africa.

New and used bras are the foundation of a thriving trade which helps women obtain bras for a fair price and supports and helps traders to develop their businesses

It was one thing for a TWACIB-sized NGO to be doing this with new underwear, but used bras? And OXFAM? To support a fair price? Really?

What defines a “fair price” for bras? I can imagine the only reason that bras might be expensive in Senegal is because:

  • import duties and transportation costs of imported bras (note that the latter doesn’t make a price unfair) and/or
  • the local market isn’t developed enough to start manufacturing its own bras.

Importing used underwear from the West doesn’t really help in either of these scenarios, does it?