An estimated 36 million people are living in slavery today. That’s more than the total number of people taken from Africa to America in the vast trans-Atlantic slave trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. SOURCE: GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2013
That’s a shocking statistic.
December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. It marks the date of the adoption by the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others on 2 December 1949. It was first observed in 1990.
Slavery today isn’t usually people in chains. Now it’s sex trafficking, child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
Want some more statistics?
SLAVERY IS ILLEGAL IN ALMOST EVERY NATION ON EARTH, BUT SLAVERY STILL EXISTS EVERYWHERE.
Modern slavery affects people in the world’s richest and the world’s poorest countries, within borders and across borders. Slavery can trap thousands in one place – like mines and factories – or happen at a small scale, where a single girl is trapped in a stranger’s home and forced to work without pay. SOURCE: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
THE VICTIMS OF SLAVERY CAN BE AS YOUNG AS FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD.
Teenagers who reach for a better life can find themselves tricked into accepting the offer of a job far away that turns into the nightmare of slavery. SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION FOR MIGRATION
That’s more than the entire output of Iceland, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Mongolia combined. And it isn’t just a problem in distant, poor countries; nearly half the total, an estimated $15.5 billion, is made in wealthy industrialized countries. SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION
SLAVE LABOR CONTRIBUTES TO THE PRODUCTION OF AT LEAST 122 GOODS FROM 58 COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE.
Official U.S. government research identifies many products – such as diamonds from Africa, bricks from Brazil, and shrimp from Southeast Asia – as products that are commonly produced with slave labor. Around the world, people are forced to work with the threat of violence for little or no pay producing dozens of things we use every day, like soccer balls, flowers, and chocolate. SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
What can you do about all this?
- Become informed. There are dozens of websites. Here are a few to get you started: www.justiceventures.org www.walkfree.org www.fightslaverynow.org
- Choose products and/or stores to avoid. Learn which brands use slave labor and just don’t buy them. Those that don’t may be more expensive, but that’s because they are paying the workers an actual living wage. Just pick one to start with. Chocolate (ouch!). Coffee. Soccer balls. Sugar. Glass bracelets. T-shirts. See this site for more info.
- Support fair trade organizations. Here’s a good list to start with. Again, these products maybe more expensive, but they are worth it. Teach your children why you can get a scarf at Target for $8, but at one of these places it’s $25.
- Volunteer your time or donate your cash.
At Christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who was born to give us ultimate freedom, it’s a fantastic time to contribute to the physical freedom of others.
See more from Carole Towriss.