According to a survey by the Fair Trade Fund, I have 44 slaves working for me.
I took the survey on a website called Slavery Footprint. I answered a total of 11 questions regarding items I have around the house and the type of food I have waiting to be devoured in my fridge. Based on my answers, I own 44 slaves. That means that 44 individuals in various parts of the world worked by force and without compensation to make, build, develop, farm, etc. a number of ‘things’ and food that are right now sitting around my house.
Of course there is no way for the site to calculate the exact number given the fact they have no idea when and where I made the purchases I did to obtain the food and items that I have.
The point is that we live in a global world of global trades and consumerism. Shoes, clothes, that new pair of jeans that fit oh-so-well, chocolate, coffee, light bulbs and just about any and all electronic devices could very well be tied to modern day slavery. The bricks holding up that building on the corner you pass everyday may have come from a brick kiln in India and made by the hands of slaves; many of who are just children and all of who do not deserve to be there. The delicious grilled fish had for dinner the other night may have been fished by young slave boys off the coast of South America or Africa.
The answer is not to stop building with brick or to stop eating tilapia. It’s not to stop buying light bulbs or a pair of jeans. Boycotting is not the answer. In fact, boycotts can cause significant damage to areas where our purchases are what’s keeping an economy active. However, we can become more aware, more creative and more proactive with our purchases in a way that sends a clear message against enslaving people.
I do think however, that as consumers, we must be aware of the global market we live in. When we purchase a dark chocolate-salted-caramel chocolate bar (my new favorite) or any other chocolate for that matter, we should know where that chocolate came from. Unfortunately cocoa fields in Ivory Coast (a West African country where a vast majority of the world’s chocolate hails from, is also home to thousands of child slaves working the cocoa fields. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love a good piece of chocolate, I’ll pass on it any day if it means ending the demand and therefore the need to enslave children to satisfy a craving.
Fortunately modern day slavery has caught significantly growing media attention and is no longer an issue largely ignored. Actually, it’s quit the opposite. Ten years ago it was difficult to find products not made on the backs on the slaves. Today that is not the case. There are many places to which we can buy products and be confident no children, woman or man was enslaved for it.
Here are a few things we can do to make sure what we are buying is legit and not made by slaves:1. Read the Bible and Pray. The most important thing we can do, those of who are Christ followers, is seek God and learn what his stand is on justice and injustice. Check out the Justice Journey Handbook for some study help. "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you." -Ps. 89:14 And read Is. 58. It will knock your socks off.
2. Educate yourself. The Polaris Project is a great place to start. Learn the facts and the realities of modern day slavery. Be aware of what products come from what countries in the world. If you’re a big coffee drinker like me, do the research and find out where the coffee you’re buying comes from and make sure it’s slave free.
3. Get involved. Contact your local police department and inquire about any human trafficking task forces in your area. Get in touch with your local church to see if they are aware of the issue. If not, point them to step 1 and learn together as a church. Discover what’s already going on in your area and help out.
4. Talk about it. It’s a social age. Use social media to help others know and understand the issues. Show a film on human trafficking in your home and have a discussion after about ways to get involved. Offer to speak about it at your church, school or tupperware party.
January 11 is national anti-human trafficking awareness day. Slavery is not a politically issue. It’s not a race issue or a people group issue. It’s not something that only happens in Southeast Asia or in developing countries. Modern day slaves exist in every part of the world, regardless of color, political association, economics or religious affiliation. And by the products we buy, we’ve now the marks of slavery have made their way into our homes.
Slavery has been around for a long time but it doesn’t mean it should continue to be around.
As mentioned, tomorrow is National Anti-Human Trafficking day. I’d love to know about what activities or events you might be participating in to help spread awareness and advocate this week or this month.
I have listed below a starter list of online companies from which we can make purchases of clothing, jewelry, bags, etc. What company do you know of that you can add to the list?
How many slaves do you own? Take the survey and find out.
Shop at markets that sell local grown produce and fish
“It has been called by a great many names and it will call itself by yet another, and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume.” –Frederick Douglass