What do you mean you're not a slave owner? Are you sure? There's a little survey that might set you straight.
I personally have 50 slaves working for me.
My friend Andi Cumbo recently released a book called The Slaves Have Names: Ancestors of My Home. It's about the enslaved people who worked on her family's plantations, and what she was able to learn about them. She was driven by a need to not allow these people to be completely forgotten. In fact, the working title of her book had been You Will Not be Forgotten. I haven't had an opportunity to read the entire book yet, but from the excerpts I've read, I predict it will be terrific. I'll be sure to give you a full review just as soon as I've read it.
Needless to say, Andi has a general interest in slavery as well. On her Andilit blog today she wrote a bit about contemporary slavery, and posted a link to the Slavery Footprint quiz. Take it, please. You'll be appalled.
The quiz was developed by Made in a Free World, an organization which describes itself this way:
Made In A Free World believes that changing the world takes everyone. We are a network of individuals, groups, and businesses working together to disrupt slavery and make freedom go viral. We produce innovative campaigns, on the ground projects, consumer engagement tools, and business solutions designed to get slavery out of our system. Our dream is simple. One day everyone and everything will be Made In A Free World.
The quiz asks you to give information about your lifestyle and consumer habits, and then uses that information to estimate how many enslaved people around the world are working for you. At the same time, it provides some basic, and frightening, information about contemporary slavery.
Made in a Free World estimates that there are over 27 million enslaved people around the world - more than the population of Australia and New Zealand combined! These people make bricks in Pakistan and rugs in India, mine rubies and diamonds in Africa and coltan (a capacitor used in electronics) in Congo, manufacture soccer balls in China, and work cotton fields in Uzbekistan. Over 15,000 have been victims of human trafficking in the United States, most sold to the sex industry.
So, my lifestyle means that 50 (at least) people are enslaved around the world to meet my consumer needs/greeds. But what can I do about it?
This area is the one in which I was disappointed in the website. The section titled What Affected My Score the Most said that for me it was children (fair trade and socks), gadgets (DVD player and game console), and clothing (running shoes). I didn't find that terribly informative. The site encouraged consumers to only buy from producers who know where their raw products are coming from as most slave labor is on the raw ingredients production end of manufacturing. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to know whether or not Land's End knows where the cotton in my shirts comes from, or Apple the material used for capacitors in my computer. Of course, it also requested donations for Made in a Free World to continue its work. I got the impression that the organization is fairly young; they didn't list many projects yet, but please, check it out and see for yourself. If nothing else, I think you'll find the site enlightening. And frightening.
The question remains: who will ensure these millions of people are not forgotten?