Posted tagged ‘Modern Slavery’

Human Trafficking and Changing Habits

May 14, 2010

With all the talk about healthcare and war spending and other ‘politically sexy’ topics being discussed in Washington and the media it breaks my heart that we tend to forget about less attractive issues like human trafficking. Its mind boggling to think that last night 27 million people went to bed as slaves. Think about that. That means that well over two times the population of New York City spent their day today being forced to pick the cotton that we nonchalantly put on as socks and t-shirts, or mining the minerals that make up the components of our high-tech gadgets that we whip out to find the nearest coffee shop, where, as is often the case, we drink coffee and eat chocolate treats harvested by unpaid children.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty, especially because I am complicit in all of the above, well except the drinking coffee part, but that’s only because I just don’t like the stuff. However, if you get a bit convicted as you read this perhaps you should assess the changes you may need to make in your life, just as I have to do in my own. Perhaps you are like I was only a few months ago, relatively unaware of the gargantuan problem of modern day slavery that seeps its way into every part of our daily lives. Its not popular to remind people that the food they are eating, the clothes they are wearing and the luxuries and comforts they are enjoying may very well be ‘stained with the blood’ of innocent men, women and children who are forced to produce those goods for companies looking to save a buck and consumers demanding those same savings.

Now there is another, often more sinister, part of the modern slave trade that has gotten some attention in the media, the sex-slave industry. I have to emphasize ‘some’ as I write because last century’s American idol runners up get more attention. Unfortunately it seems that when stories about these abuses air we seem to have moments of conviction that soon get overwhelmed by the grand scale of the issue at hand or by our own apathy and acceptance of the status quo that suits most of us so well.

So what are we to do with a problem of such a monumental scale, with so little public attention and such an ability to blend in to its surroundings? Well there are the usual routes of writing your congressman or protesting certain brands, but I want to encourage us all to try something a bit different. My suggestion is that we all, for one month, try to fast from any goods made by slaves. In tandem with this, I admonish each of us to start educating ourselves about the problem so that we can in turn educate others, and that instead of just boycotting brands that are notorious for their ‘bloody’ production line, we actively seek out ways to support businesses and non-profits that are working towards the new abolition. And assuming that none of you are sleeping with prostitutes, which I sure hope you are not, then a good way to help those in the sex slave industry is to buy jewelry and other goods made by women and children rescued from brothels. And most of all, we need to pray, to cry out to God as a people, the spiritual descendants of the Israelites, who were rescued by God’s almighty hand from the clutches of a tyrannical slave master.

Educate yourselves by checking out this list of resources and ideas, and  join the movement of modern day abolitionists. Also, keep the World Equestrian Games in your prayers as it is expected that thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people will be forcibly brought in to the Lexington, KY area to be sex workers for those attending the games.

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Human Trafficking Conference- NFS Video

October 13, 2009

This very short video, from last weeks Forum On Human Trafficking, powerfully conveys the message that slavery and human trafficking are a grave reality in our world, even this very day. Watch it, then check out my previous post to see what you can do about it.

Human Trafficking Conference- Helpful Links

October 9, 2009

So far today the most useful presentation was about monitoring supply changes. It was especially helpful because several organizations’ websites were given out, from groups that advocate on behalf of the poor to consumer watchdog groups to grass roots movements.

Here are the links and a brief description about each. I hope you find these to be informative and inspiring. This an issue that the church must find itself combating as a part of our witness as Jesus, the One who befriended the lowest of the low.

The International Labor Rights Forum is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. They also provide information about the labor practices of various companies and even information about labor laws around the world.

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility seeks to encourage businesses to act in a socially responsible way.

MADE-BY is an independent consumer label for fashion companies who continuously improve and are transparent about the social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the whole supply chain of their collections.

The Not For Sale Campaign equips and mobilizes Smart Activists to deploy innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery in their own backyards and across the globe.

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.

Proxy Democracy is an organization that helps investors find companies that have ethical practices and connect to other investors to work synergistically to open information streams and encourage corporations to be ethical.

The Story of Stuff creatively chronicles the underside of our production and consumption patterns, and exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Free 2 Work provides a databaseof companies from around the world so you can independently search, report, and verify known labor practices. This one may be particularly helpful as we try to decide what products to buy.

Responsible Shopper reports on global research and campaign information regarding the impact of major corporations on human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability and more.

The Good Guide provides the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home. This means you can find out if your products were made by forced labor or with environmentally harmful materials and processes.

The Trade Observatory works with organizations around the world to analyze how global trade agreements impact domestic farm and food policies. Alongside a global coalition, and advocates for fair trade policies that promote strong health standards, labor and human rights, the environment and, most fundamentally, democratic institutions.

Earth Rights International combats human rights violations through advocation, organization, education and litigation.

Chain Store Reaction provides information about tons of brands and provides an easy opportunity to contact these companies to encourage them to investigate and end slavery in their supply chains.

I believe that when Jesus said he came to set the captives free that he didnt just free their souls for heaven, he showed with his life that he came to set people free from the slavery of poverty and greed and abuse and oppression as well. Join the Carpenter from Nazareth and take part in freeing slaves and acting in a restorative and redemptive way in this world. No more excuses!!!