I was struck recently by how little people know about modern day slavery. I would probably hear stories about sweatshop labour in developing countries and kids making sneakers if I were to ask anybody about it, but sadly the stories get more heartbreaking and can be closer to home than we imagine.
A truly tragic story is told in this article about Dubai. Promising work and good wages to the poor and then robbing them of any way to leave while forcing them into backbreaking and cruel labour is a typical tactic and often times government and law enforcement let it continue.
Similar stories exist in the states and a more prominent one involves the tomato workers in Immokalee, Florida. Here is a good overview on the living conditions and the nature of the work being endured by the workers. Too often we see companies exploiting the fear and ignorance of the law of immigrants for their own profit.
Here are a few other related stories on human trafficking:
'If you don't see it, you aren't looking', Miss Canada speaks out against human trafficking
Georgia gets an opportunity to enforce a new human trafficking law
Unfortunately a large case in Hawaii appears to have collapsed...
Another article on the Immokalee workers
Sadly, many of the trafficking tales involve children and forced prostitution, but some laws are trying to protect the people forced into prostitution from being treated like criminals
This is just a small peak into a very frightening and real world. But we can help stop this. When we know what companies are benefiting from slave labour, we can stop buying their goods or visiting their shops. We can speak up to our lawmakers that this is an issue and we want to see it addressed.
Police departments have community liaisons; ask them what your local PD is doing to combat human trafficking.
Many churches and non-profits offer assistance to people trying to escape slavery, acting like a safe house. Donate and volunteer.
Support the groups that already exist to fight this issue. Some examples include the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Not For Sale organization, and Amnesty International.
If we educate ourselves and act for justice, we can make a difference.
J Trapp (our resident expert on all things global and social awareness) writes...