Human trafficking continues to impact our daily life in unexpected ways. As consumers we are not always aware of the cycles of abuse and exploitation that may lie behind the goods and services we purchase.
While sex trafficking headlines sadly abound in connection to child sexual abuse material (pornography) and sex rings, another reality of this oppressive and illicit crime is labor trafficking which includes private sector industries such as agriculture, construction, factory work, illicit massage businesses and domestic work.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) more than half of the 24.9 million individuals trapped in forced labor are exploited in the private sector. Labor trafficking often goes unnoticed amongst vulnerable communities such as migrant and seasonal farmworkers in search of a better life, who rather continue operating in silence in spite of abusive situations under traffickers that exploit their labor services, using the victim’s fear of deportation, lack of funds, lack of a local support network or even local language fluency to their advantage.
Made in a Free World offers additional insight and solutions to help improve supply chain transparency and help eliminate labor trafficking. They also offer a unique tool for consumers via www.slaveryfootprint.org to help conceptualize a potential slavery footprint we may unsuspectedly be contributing to.
Human trafficking, including labor trafficking, occurs worldwide including within the U.S. While we may be indirectly contributing to the cycle, each of us can proactively play a part to help fight human trafficking in our daily lives. What do you know about the products and services you buy? How can we help strengthen our community to help reduce vulnerabilities where we are and help preserve human dignity for each and every person?
Monthly column written for St. Joseph Catholic Church, Tampa, FL