Take Slavery out of Shopping

 In News

The relationship between our everyday purchases and modern day slavery seems improbable. But the connection is very real, just hidden from public view.

Traffickers target impoverished families with promises of a better life for their children. Parents give up sons and daughters who end up in forced and abusive work on farms, factories and brothels.

A look inside the chocolate industry illustrates the problem.  More than 280,000 children, 64% under 14 years, work as forced labor on cocoa farms in West Africa, meaning harsh physical labor, 13 hour work days, beatings, fitful sleep on a wooden plank in a locked room filled with other slaves. Most of the 15 billion dollars of chocolate consumed yearly in the United States is tainted with this forced, abusive child labor.

Parallel stories of child and adult exploitation abound in the supply chains of coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, jewelry, clothing, and the list goes on.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Fair Trade is changing the lives and futures of millions of small farmers, producers and their children.

Fair Trade confronts poverty, trafficking and slavery in three ways.

Prevention. Assuring decent wages for parents, along with funds set aside for community development (schools, clinics and the like), Fair Trade stands as a powerful antidote to the lure of a ‘better life elsewhere’ that is held out by traffickers.

Abolition. Fair Trade certification is given only to a business that cleans up its act and demonstrates that forced or abusive labor is not part of its supply chain.

Rehabilitation. Fair Trade Cooperatives provide a safe haven, counseling and dignified work to victims rescued from brothels and other situations of exploitation.

Fair Trade is consumer driven. We have the ability to break the chains – simply by relentlessly pursuing Fair Trade at every opportunity.


by Joe & Linda Michon,
Fair Trade Claremont

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