Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blog Action Day - Modern Abolition


Abolition is a world I associate with the American Civil War. With Abraham Lincoln and Gone with the Wind. But recently I learned there is such a thing as modern abolition and that was quite a shocking thing.

Because if modern abolition exists that means there are modern slaves.

Oh, I knew there were still slaves in our world. I am not completely blind to sex trafficking, and I've seen Blood Diamond. And I remember reading a book once about a young girl from Africa (sorry I cannot be more specific than that, I genuinely cannot remember where she was from) who was sold into domestic slavery in London, to a wealthy couple, her own countrymen. But I haven't thought much about it since.

This month, mum bought me a copy of Peppermint magazine. I've never read it before - kind of always considered it to be a bit expensive, a bit hipster. But what a revelation - it had an article on "Made in a Free World", a "network of individuals, groups, and businesses working together to disrupt slavery and make freedom go viral." Founded by an amazing guy named Justin Dillon, they work to raise awareness, increase transparency in our supply chains and engage people, groups and businesses about modern slavery.


There are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide. Take a moment to think about that number. TWENTY-SEVEN MILLION. That's more than the population of my country. That's more people in slavery than ever before in the history of humanity.

They exist in so many more industries that one would guess. Not just the sex trade - there are slaves laboring in manufacturing, mining, agriculture and fishing.

What I do like about Made in a Free World is that their action plan does not include boycotts. Instead, they work to try to help businesses identify slavery in their manufacturing chains, exposing forced labour where they may not have even realised it was happening. They also are trying to raise consumer awareness via their Slavery Footprint website, which can help you identify how many slaves work for you. Yes, YOU. How many slaves helped make your coffee, or grow the crops used to make your clothes? I did the survery. It said I had 34 slaves working for me, mainly in the areas of medicine, gadgets, electronics and car manufacture. Now that's an eye-opener

Here's a great video about children enslaved in Ghana's fishing industry.

So what can you do? Read about the issue more. Get educated about it. Here in Australia, Anti Slavery Australia works to help those in slavery or forced labour situtions. This may be anyone who is trapped working in their family's shop and paid no wages to a sex worker being held to "work off a debt". Have a good read of their site, there are many things you can do to get involved. You can volunteer, donate, fundraise.

But I think the most important things are awareness, and questioning. The more you know, the better the decisions you can make about your consumerism. The more questions we ask, the more exploitative practises are exposed.

How many slaves work for you?

{This post was written for Blog Action Day 2013. This year's theme is Human Rights}


  1. Even after having written about the same topic this sends shivers down my spine. Its horrible to think how many people were oppressed to make our TVs, computers, clothes, shoes. Ugh. I will be thinking twice about buying new things, and definitely thinking about which companies I support.

    1. Love your attitude :) I'm going to be reading/researching more, especially about the supply chains of shops I buy clothes from!

  2. Why has it taken so long for all of us, young and old to clearly see the hidden agenda of some worldwide clothing companies? We look at the tags, but fail to act on our knowledge and suspicions. Time to rethink, methinks!



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