Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger
So you don’t think you’re a slaver?
Of course you don’t.
Statistically speaking, most of you are decent people. You find the notion of slavery abhorrent. Slavery is illegal in this country and immoral and unethical everywhere. You’d never hire someone using slaves to work for you. You’d never buy something you knew without a doubt was made by slaves.
Right? Or would you? What if you didn’t know your subcontractor relied upon slave labor or the goods you purchased were made by slave labor or relied on natural resources gathered and processed by slaves? If you did, would you do something about it? Knowledge is power. As your quantity and quality of relevant information increases, so will the quality of your decision making.
Would you like to get an idea about how much slave labor goes into maintaining your lifestyle, if any?
There’s an app for that.
Slavery Footprint is a website created by Call + Response, a non-profit dedicated to ending slavery, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Slavery Footprint website has a Flash-driven survey that asks a variety of questions about how you live, from where to the food you eat to the type of products you use in the bathroom to the clothes in your closet. They also have a downloadable application for both Android and iPhone. You can answer the survey in as little or as much detail as you like. The questions are not brand specific. No questions ask for personally identifying information. However, the more detailed answers you give gets you a more detailed response as to how you live might be contributing to the global slave trade and forced labor practices. You might be surprised at the results, even if you’re an informed and conscientious consumer. I know I was and the knowledge was well worth the time to take the survey.
You might be wondering exactly how Slavery Footprint scores the various products in question. They are quite upfront about both their methodology and their sources of information. Combining data both on the manufacturing country and the source materials used, the algorithm they use is explained by the following graphic:
The sources for their data are as follows:
“The five main reports we used were:
- 1. Department of State “Trafficking in Persons Report 2011” The most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons.
- 2. Department of Labor (DOL) “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor 2010” A list of goods from countries that the Bureau of International Labor Affairs has substantiated used of forced labor or child labor its production.
- 3. International Labor Organization’s (ILO) “Committee of Experts Reports 2011-2003” The Committee of Experts undertakes investigations of government reports on ratified conventions. The Committee’s role is to provide an impartial evaluation of violations of international labor standards.
- 4. Transparency International‘s “Corruption Index 2010” This index is used to measure and quantify the levels of public sector corruption in 178 countries around the world.
- 5. Freedom House “Freedom in the World 2010 Combined Average Ratings – Independent Countries” The Freedom in the World 2010 survey contains reports on 194 countries and 14 related and disputed territories. Each country report includes a narrative on the following information: population, capital, political rights (numerical rating), civil liberties (numerical rating), status (Free, Partly Free, or Not Free), and a 10-year ratings timeline.
Additionally, we utilized published data pertaining to forced labor issues. This included vetted data drawn from a variety of international sources. The following inclusion criteria were used:
- Drawn from ONE Internationally credible source with expert review (i.e. ILO, International Office for Migration, World Health Organization, United Nations Security Council)
- Referenced in at least TWO multi-national reliable sources (i.e. CNN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International)
- Reported on by at least THREE disparate and unrelated local news sources (i.e. The Guardian, Swedwatch, Jakarta Post, Enough Project)
Note: This data set will continue to be expanded based on emerging research and the results of further investigations that meet the aforementioned inclusion criteria.”
The fight for human rights is more important now than ever. With oppressive practices by both governments and industry on the rise globally, it is imperative to speak truth to power by standing up for human rights everywhere in addition to standing up for civil rights in your home country. In an ever connected and interconnected world economy, slavery isn’t just a local problem in some far away place. It’s a problem in your very own kitchen.
What can be done to address this problem? What should be done to address this problem? Both locally and globally?
What do you think?
~Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger