When you wake up in the morning are you thinking, “How many slaves are working for me right now?” Most people would say “no, and I thought slavery was abolished in 1865.” Your morning may consist of listening to coffee percolating in its pot, trying to decide which outfit to wear, and pouring cereal into a bowl before you rush out the door. You probably do not realize that your morning routine may employ several different slaves in other countries.
The truth is that the legalization of slave labor may have ended in our country in the 1800s, but it exists today in many other countries. It is estimated that there are about 27 million people forced to work against their will under force, fraud, and/or coercion. Some of these countries may have laws similar to those in the United States against slavery, but they go unenforced or the slave labor goes unnoticed. Often these men, women, and children find themselves working in tough conditions with no pay with no way out.
- I encourage you to take a look at your “slavery footprint” at http://slaveryfootprint.org, whereby you can see approximately how many slaves work for you. You can get as detailed about your daily life as you like during the survey. You will get the best results if you are honest about the products you use and the food you eat. I took the survey and was shocked to find that about 44 slaves work for me. The website then allows you to send a note to some of the companies that you may use, give you more information on your “footprint” and find out ways to help the fight to end slavery.
- One way to ensure that you are purchasing products that do not involve slavery is through fair trade. Fair trade products are produced ethically and promote sustainability in developing countries. For more information about fair trade and a list of alternative fair trade products, visit www.fairtradeusa.org.
- Normally, our program focuses on sex trafficking in the United States; however, throughout the month of March, I would like to explore different facets of slave labor around the world and the fair trade efforts posed against it. It is important to delve deeper into the products that surround our lives. We often forget that the food we eat and the clothes we wear do not necessarily come from this country and may not be produced in ways we would normally condone. How many slaves work for you, and how can we all make that number decrease? Let us discover new ways to help end slavery.