Freedon & Social JusticePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Free the Slaves
Freedom and social justice are attained when men and women are able to choose fulfilling work and receive fair wages. Employment without fear of slavery or human trafficking breeds quality of life and equality. Tragically this is not the reality for millions of women and children caught in the modern-day phenomenon of human trafficking.

Human Slavery is a Modern Problem

If you thought slavery was a thing of the past, think again. Shockingly, it’s alive and thriving in this modern age. Though estimates are difficult to come by due to the clandestine nature of slave trade and human trafficking, international law enforcement experts believe between 500,000 to 4 million human beings are held in veritable bondage worldwide. [i]

The term human trafficking refers to the act of trading of human lives. Trafficked humans are owned, sold, traded, and treated as property in an international black market. Here are some shocking statistics:

  • Worldwide problem: Human trafficking occurs in nearly every country, but the most active human trafficking regions are South Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.[ii]
  • Women and children: Nearly 80% of humans trafficked are women; over 50% are minors.[iii]
  • Average cost of a human slave: The average cost of a human slave is $90.[iv] In the Ivory Coast, girls can be bought for as little as $7.[v]
  • Human slaves on American soil: 50,000 women and children are trafficked from other countries into America each year.[vi]

Fast Fashion and Human Trafficking

So what do your shopping habits have to do with human slavery? People become victims of human trafficking in a multitude of ways, including abduction, political instability, persecution, extreme poverty, limited employment options, violence and conflict. But poverty and the horrors of modern day slavery are inextricably linked. Poverty is the biggest single contributing factor in the issue of child labor.

The fast consumption culture contributes to the global slavery problem by demanding low cost labor.

  • Humans forced to work without pay: People are enslaved in nearly every link in the fashion supply chain: on cotton farms, diamond and mineral mines and clothing factories.
  • Sweatshops and wage slavery: Slave-like conditions are often perpetuated in sweatshops where humans work for very low wages under harsh conditions. This is called wage slavery because it traps people in an endless cycle of poverty.

Whether it’s called slavery or not, whenever one human being denies fair wages for the work of another, it’s slavery. And this kind of conduct is rampant in the cheap fashion industry.

Don’t Support the Trade of Human Lives

Knowingly or not, consumers and corporations alike are complicit in human trafficking. By changing how we purchase, we can work together with ethical companies to liberate human slaves and fight against systems that allow slavery to exist.

Ethical businesses encourage freedom and justice for all humans at every stage of the supply chain through strict standards and principles. At Hearts, we push the boundaries of ethical consumerism by prohibiting all forms of slavery, including unpaid labor, debt bondage, sex slavery, child slavery, and the trafficking of humans. Instead, we encourage freedom and social justice through:

  • Fair trade
  • Cooperatives
  • Microloans

These fair trade fashion systems place the welfare of people above the need and greed for profit. Conscious consumers can support these types of businesses. By changing our purchasing patterns, we can change the world so millions of people can achieve freedom, and social justice. We hope you’ll help us.

To educate yourself about Freedom & Social Justice, dive deeper. 

World Issue - Freedom Social Justice - hearts.com.pdf

[i] Don't Trade Lives. (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking and Slavery. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from World Vision: http://www.worldvision.com.au/Libraries/DTL_fact_sheets/Factsheet_Human_trafficking.pdf

[ii] (Human Trafficking and Slavery, 2004)

[iii] Don't Trade Lives. (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking and Slavery. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from World Vision: http://www.worldvision.com.au/Libraries/DTL_fact_sheets/Factsheet_Human_trafficking.pdf

[iv] Connolly, M. (2012, April 4). SHOCKING - Share these human trafficking statistics with your friends. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/hf/faith/story.php?id=45587

[v]  Human Trafficking and Slavery. (2004, March 26). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from Congressional Quarterly - Researcher: http://www.hrusa.org/workshops/trafficking/CQResearcher.pdf

[vi] Ronchetti, E. (2011). Women Trafficking in 2011: The New Face of Sex Slavery. Retrieved April 20, 2012, from Soroptimist: http://www.soroptimist.org/articles/women-trafficking-in-2011-the-new-face-of-sex-slavery.html