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June 23, 2017

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Women's rights groups protest Prada's listing in Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Women's rights groups staged a noisy protest against Italian fashion house Prada in Hong Kong Thursday, a day ahead of its listing in the city, accusing the brand of sexual discrimination.

Two dozen activists chanted "Down down Prada! The Devil is Prada! No listing of Prada! Shame on you Prada!" as they demonstrated outside a Prada store in a busy shopping district in the city.

The protest stemmed from the case of Rina Bovrisse, a former Prada manager in Japan who claimed she was unfairly fired in March last year after being told by a company executive she was "ugly" and didn't have "the Prada look."

"I'm here today to stand up for women who have been victims of harassment and discrimination at the workplace," said Bovrisse, who flew to Hong Kong for the protest, and asked investors to "think twice" before investing in Prada.

"Hong Kong should uphold principles of equality — we urge consumers and investors to be wise about their choices," Doris Lee, program coordinator of labor rights group Asia Monitor Resource Centre told reporters.

"We don't understand why the Hong Kong stock exchange would allow a company that practices sexual harassment and discrimination to list in the city," she said, adding that the group has sought an explanation from the stock exchange.

Bovrisse, a Japanese national married to a Frenchman, had alleged Prada Japan pressured a number of female employees into resigning by describing them as "aged, ugly, fat, bad body shape, bad teeth, disgusting and not cute."

Bovrisse and two of her former colleagues at the Tokyo boutique are currently suing Prada Japan for sexual harassment and unfair dismissal. The case is still pending in court.

Prada Japan has denied the claims and launched a counter-suit against Bovrisse for harming the group's image.

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