How do you contribute to modern day slavery of human trafficking?
So, the Christian Science Monitor did a follow-up article to this week’s cover story (which I have previously commented on) on the pervasiveness of everyday items that are the products of human trafficking (you can find the follow up article here).
My last post dealt almost exclusively with the subject of sex trafficking. This issue falls under the umbrella of human trafficking, however, it does not define it. Human trafficking encompasses indentured labor as well; this aspect of the issue does not receive nearly as much critical attention as does sex trafficking on its own. I find this to be interesting because one could assert that human trafficking in the form of indentured or forced labor affects more individuals across a larger expanse of area than does sex trafficking. The article puts it this way:
"In a typical day, Americans can wear, use, and consume items made or processed by men, women, and children in what the agency calls ‘modern day slavery’."
Personally, I find this disturbing. How are we unaware or ambivalent or uncaring of where and how our daily necessities have come into being? The author of this article highlights several ways throughout the day in which we potentially are supporting human trafficking. For your convenience, I’ll paraphrase here: The clothes you wear could have been mass produced in a third-world sweat shop where the workers are beaten, threatened, sexually abused, etc. The gold in your jewelry could have been mined by child laborers in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. The electronics we find ourselves hard-pressed to be separated from could have been assembled by factory workers living on minimal pay, suffering through long, unregulated hours. The coffee you drink could come from coffee plantations that rely on indentured, modern-day slave, workers. Basically, if you don’t specifically buy fair trade items, there’s a not-so-slight chance that whatever it was you bought was made by someone who is being abused and exploited by a corrupt system of production.
I think that it’s important to make sure that this issue of forced or indentured labor is not overshadowed by the highly politicized, highly scrutinized issue of sex trafficking.
I also think that we are reluctant to acknowledge this other aspect of human trafficking because it has a more profound on our personal, day to day lives. Fair-trade items are more expensive, and you have to deliberately search for them when you do your shopping. Frankly, it is an inconvenience. To stereotype my own country, Americans do not like changing their habits, especially if it means spending more money. However, I think that through education and greater media visibility, we can inspire public cooperation and support of anti-human trafficking initiatives.
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