Today is the day thousand wear red x’s on their hands, shirts, and hats to raise awareness that slavery still exists.
Our family has participated in this day several years running. My kids know that slavery still exists, and that it’s happening in our country. We support organizations that are a part of the end it movement. I love the difference this day and movement has made in awareness of the issue.
So now that we’ve gotten a foothold in awareness...how can we transition our knowledge into action? I love the song Albertine by Brooke Fraser, and the line that says “now that I have seen, I am responsible” We now know there is slavery. We are responsible. So how do we actually end it?
First off, make sure you are fully informed. That you have seen, eyes wide open to the atrocities that are occurring. Don’t be naive. Don’t stick your head in the sand. This is not an issue for other countries, this is happening in your backyard. If you live in Georgia, this just happened. Florida had this repulsiveness exposed. The obscenities that occurred in New York around the Super Bowl are appalling. Pick a state and you can find slavery.
While we seem to be most informed about sex slavery, we also employ slaves in our daily lives. From our electronics, to our food and our clothes, we have the ability to impact the slave trade with the choices we as a consumer make. Here are a few areas you can be more informed about:
Your clothes. This website is an incredible resource of information about brands and their manufacturing processes. I loved being able to look up how some of my favorite brands were ranking in this, and was quite pleased to see some of my favorites like H&M and Gap scored B’s. I know I will not be purchasing from Abercrombie and Fitch, Lacoste or Sketchers, and I will be looking into etsy variations of the princess dresses my daughter adores since Disney ain’t sitting so pretty either. I look forward to using informed decision making in my voice as a consumer when it comes to the clothing items we purchase as a family.
Your chocolate. Did you know that a preteen child is working over 80 hours a week without pay, enduring beating all to provide you with your chocolate? Are you familiar with the companies that are the biggest offenders, and the ones that are taking action to stop this? I know that our family will not be purchasing anything Hershey thanks to their blatant disregard of their involvement in slave labor. This will be hard with Easter around the corner, and come next Halloween, but the voice of my dollar can help save a child being beaten at the expense of suburban kids to continuing their sugar high.
Your coffee. The coffee industry is one of the largest in slave employment. After some research it looks like I will need to drastically scale back my trips to a certain coffee store (UK gets certified Fair Trade coffee, but not USA?!) that’s on every corner and change up my in store purchases as well.
Some other foods that are typically associated with slave labor are sugar, bananas, rice, and beef. You can purchase these items with a Fair trade Certified symbol on the front of them. I buy my fair trade bananas at Whole Foods, rice, and sugar as well. I’ve seen fair trade coffee and sugar in most regular grocery stores. I purchase local, grass fed beef, which you can find at Whole Foods, and lots of co-ops near major cities.
Finally, and it disgusts me to say this, but pornography. I could write for hours about the damage pornography does from creator to consumer, and all involved…not to mention society. However I will try to keep my focus on how we can be a part of ending it. The rise in pornography and sex slavery go hand in hand. As pornography has increased so has the industry for sex slavery (see US Dept. of Justice article below for supporting statistics). It is not an exaggeration to say by viewing, or purchasing pornography of any sort, you are contributing to sex slavery. Especially when you consider that most of pornography is women and children forced into the act. Watching a teenage girl be raped for your enjoyment is every bit of a participant in sex slavery. Supply and demand, and if you view pornography you are creating the demand. There is lots of research that verifies it’s addictive tendencies. Get help. It’s not ok, no matter how TV and movies may joke that it is. “Pornography rewires the male brain to become dependent on chemicals. This de- pendency is linked to negative perceptions, attitudes, and aggression toward women.” Shared Hope
Take time to visit this website. It has you take a brief survey, and based off answers you input, gives you an idea of how many slaves you employ. At the end it gives you the option to send notes to the companies affiliated with employing slaves. If we are going to fight this, we need to do it with eyes wide open. Know how your decisions impact the lives of others. Know that where you put your dollar impacts others lives. The difference of a few dollars in your grocery budget, or clothing budget can be one of the best monthly donations you can make. Just as powerful as the organizations fighting slavery are our day to day choices of choosing to support and fight against modern day slavery. Your voice, your dollar, and your actions matter. Use them for good.
Department of Labor’s list of goods produced by child and forced labor
Blood Diamond, the movie
The US Dept. of Justice National Strategy for child exploitation prevention
The Dark Side of Chocolate, documentary
Chosen, a documentary about sex slavery in America
How does your state rank in slavery laws, and how you can help