The holidays are right around the corner and soon the Christmas carols will be touting the “most wonderful time of the year.” But for many children and adults, of which 152 million are victims of child labor, some of our gifts that we are giving to loved ones may bring a smile to their faces, but it is coming as an expense to others.

This holiday season consider making some of your gift purchases to support those in underdeveloped countries by providing them a just wage and fair working conditions. You may not only bring a smile to the face of your family and friends but also to those working to support their families. When we provide others with just wages in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching of the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, then we are not only supporting the rights of workers to decent and fair wages, we are allowing them the opportunity to send their children to school and provide a future for them. Thus, breaking the cycle of poverty and chains of modern-day slavery.

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The fight against modern-day slavery is going to take a collaborative effort of consumers, government enforcement and businesses to make a difference. The U.S. government has taken steps in the right direction by recently halting the import of goods suspected to have been made with forced labor – Read More Here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/01/politics/cbp-trade-forced-labor/index.html The U.S. also recently blacklisted 28 Chinese entities over abuses in Xinjiang. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/us/politics/us-to-blacklist-28-chinese-entities-over-abuses-in-xinjiang.html

We too, as consumer can play a role. To be a modern-day abolitionist and set the example for the young person in your life, consider buying them a slave-free toy or game this year. Visit Fair Gifts and Toys https://www.pinterest.com/endslaverynow/fair-gifts-toys-for-kids/ for kids and get inspired! Contact businesses that your frequent purchase from and let them know that this is an issue important to you.

Finally, businesses can play a role by looking at their global supply chains. Some are taking steps to trace the supply chain of their products and conduct independent investigations to ensure forced labor does not exist, but many retailers have a long way to go. Recently, Walmart piloted a blockchain project to track shrimp exports from the farmer in Andhra to an overseas retailer. Read more here: https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/walmart-pilots-blockchain-project-to-track-shrimp-exports-11570189892385.html

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information, visit www.knowthechain.org to learn about corporations’ supply chains. When shopping, consider www.serrv.org and www.noondaycollection.org. You can also download ILAB’s Sweat & Toil app to learn which countries and products are using child and forced labor.  

 

By Christine Commerce, Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator – November 2019