Slave Labor and Supply Chains

The UN describes modern slavery as the condition of people whose work “is performed involuntarily and under the menace of penalty.”  Modern slaves can be forced to work through threats of violence, through withholding of identification, through threats to family members, and also through subtler means like financial pressure or limiting movements. All told according to a recent report by the Walk Free Initiative, in 2018 there were 40.3 million people living in these conditions, mainly women. When Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981, as the last stronghold it made slavery illegal throughout the world.  One problem is how difficult it is to track down the offenses. It is part of countries with shady human rights certainly, but it is everywhere, including the US. Of these 40 plus million there are at least 16 who are part of the supply chain, meaning the people who work on the things we buy. Even if slave conditions are outlawed within manufacturing, it is difficult to enforce, to make sure products are entirely made by slave free labor. The fashion and the tech industries are two of the worst culprits. With fashion for example, we want cheap clothes, and cheap clothes can only come with cheap labor.  Some businesses are onboard, yet because products can have many parts which come from many different countries it is often difficult to know if slave working conditions were involved. Another aspect of the tragedy is that so many of those who are forced to work and/or live under these conditions are not aware they are being exploited. There are no easy answers, but one hope lies in education: Educating people about their rights, and promoting human rights education among vulnerable populations such as those of migrant workers or those likely to be in underage marriages.

If and when we can, let’s contribute to that education.

Access To Justice

About two thirds of the world’s population, 5.1 billion do not have access to justice. Of these, 1.5 billion or one in five, have been left with justice issues they are not able to solve. That could be a land dispute, being the victim of a crime or a consumer debt.  These figures come from a new report issued by The Task Force on Justice. The report indicates that 253 million people live with extreme injustice and are deprived of legal protections. They comprise 40 million modern day slaves, 12 million stateless, 200 million who live in countries which are so insecure seeking any kind of justice is not possible. The report points out not only the advantages of providing justice but also the fact that as a human right along with education and health care, it is actually cheaper. In low income countries, where most of the lack to access to justice exists, it costs $20 per person, universal primary and secondary education $41 and healthcare at least $76.  These figures would certainly increase for the developed world, but the message that providing justice to those who need it is cheaper than we think remains.

It’s so easy to forget that providing justice is part of the infrastructure of security in any country, and that infrastructure is necessary for prosperity, a prosperity which in turn provides citizens with a modicum of quality of life.

A Nursing Home for Sex Workers

In many countries once sex workers are no longer desirable enough to work, they end up destitute and homeless. Carmen Munoz saw that, and a sex worker herself she was not only touched by their plight she wanted to prevent this from happening to her. Her own story can be typical of why women go to work in one of Mexico City’s several red light districts. At 22 with 7 children, her husband left her. She heard of a priest who helped people find jobs, but after Continue reading “A Nursing Home for Sex Workers”

Trafficked Children and “The Ugly Truth”

Several days ago I read a couple of details in a story on the traficking of children in India that stayed with me. One was how unaware the realities of trafficking are is to most people in India, and the one that haunts me that young girls who were stolen as children to be trafficked were given hormone shots such as Oxytocin to makes them mature more quickly. That one detail evoked the horrors of that trade and I keep wondering about the effects of those Continue reading “Trafficked Children and “The Ugly Truth””