150 years ago from day, on January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, granting freedom to slaves living all across the Confederacy. However, for Lincoln’s nation, it would be another three years before the document could be enforced, and to this day,although slavery is technically illegal, the chains still continue to hold captive millions just beneath the surface.
Slavery, today, is an “invisible enemy,” making it very easy to dismiss. A head of lettuce may cost $0.90 in the local supermarket, but little do consumers know that there is a much higher, greater human rights cost that must also be paid. Our demand for cheap groceries is fuel for corporations who must then exploit laborers, paying them unfair wages and placing them in subhuman conditions, to meet our needs.
Only a few weeks ago, on December 28th, an article was published that spoke of a desperate letter that was found hidden inside a Halloween decorations kit. Here’s an excerpt of the letter:
“Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.”
“People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).”
I hate to call human trafficking an “invisible” problem, because it somehow frees us from the responsibility that we have as consumers; after all, if it is “invisible,” then we are naturally blind to it – we are helpless. But in our modern day world of technology, of networks, and infinite resources, we cannot possibly continue to keep our eyes conveniently closed. We can fight against this. We can engage ourselves, become more knowledgeable and conscious consumers.
We need to make the suffering visible by spreading the word, by protesting, by taking active measures in our own daily lives. We need to change our mindsets and stop ourselves from falling into that temptation of deeming injustice as “inevitable” before we can really do anything to counter it.
I leave you today with a few interesting resources that carry information on human trafficking/slave labor and ways that we can get involved:
Re-blogged from Idealist on a Mission.