Inmates in as many as 40 prisons in 24 states are refusing to go to work to protest what many believe is “modern-day slavery” and calling for reforms in the US prison system.
The new trade negotiations – TTIP – sound dull. It combines the US and EU markets to make the process of fleecing the sheep simpler and cheaper for the wolves. Standard procedure, you may say – and you would be right.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in America and contrary to popular belief, slavery is not a product of Western capitalism; Western capitalism is a product of slavery.…
Steve Williams has released a tell-all memoir about his relationship with the famed golfer.
On “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver took a look at the long history of child labor in the fashion industry.
The use of sweatshops and child labor in clothes manufacturing has long been out of style.
As illustrated in this political cartoon from 1870, it’s been associated with nasty, dehumanizing working conditions, health risks, and exploitation.
Je suis 19th century political commentary.
It’s a modern problem made worse by plunging prices in the fashion industry.
Sure, companies do what they can to say they’re against the use of child labor, but the current deal-driven state of the fashion industry makes it so there’s really no alternative.
I mean, how else do you think the $15 dress came into existence?
It used to be that the use of child labor was enough to really rattle a company. Take for example, Kathie Lee Gifford.
In the mid-’90s, it came out that Gifford’s clothing line was being produced in Honduras by 13- and 14-year-olds.
As one might expect, Kathie Lee became the target of protests.
She even testified on the issue in front of Congress.
Within a couple of years, Gifford was out the door at “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee,” and was never heard from again…
…unless you count the millions of people who tune in to see her on “Today.”
Ah, yeah that. Okay, so maybe the sweatshop scandal didn’t destroy her career after all.
In fact, on “Today” she’s done segments showcasing companies that have taken heat for child labor practices.
See? It all comes full circle.
On “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver skewered the fashion industry for failing to live up to promises that they’d avoid sweatshop labor.
Take Gap, for example.
In 1995, it came out that Gap was using child labor to manufacture their clothes.
They promised to make changes.
In 2000, they had a similar situation in Cambodia, and yes, they promised to fix the problem.
And in 2007, they were hit with yet another child labor scandal, and yes, again, they promised to make changes.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and it’s pretty clear we’re willing to accept child labor so long as it results in affordable fashion.
There are still lots of people ready to push back on companies that use child labor, but most of us seem content to sit on the sidelines and rake in the deals.
Some people take their demands to the streets.
And protest by becoming human billboards.
But most of us?
Companies need to be held accountable. It’s no longer acceptable for them to just claim ignorance on the issue.
If you’re a company like Gap, Forever 21, or H&M, and you don’t know exactly which factory is producing your clothes, it’s probably bad news.
If it seems to good to be true, it probably is — this goes double for $4 T-shirts, $12 blazers, and other deals.
The best thing you can do as a consumer is stay up to date on which companies are using child labor, and when you find one that does, take your business elsewhere.
Almost 36 million people are living as slaves across the globe with a report listing Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar and India as the nations where modern-day slavery is most prevalent.
The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights group, estimated in its inaugural slavery index last year that 29.8 million people were born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, trapped in debt bondage or exploited for forced labour.
Releasing its second annual index, Walk Free increased its estimate of the number of slaves to 35.8 million, citing better data collection and slavery being uncovered in areas where it had not been found previously.
For the second year, the index of 167 countries found India had, by far, the greatest number of slaves – up to 14.3 million people in its population of 1.25 billion were victims of slavery, ranging from prostitution to bonded labour.
- Modern slavery exists in all 167 countries covered by the index
- Total number of people enslaved: 35.8 million people
- Improved methodology uncovers 20% more enslaved people than last year’s report
- Five countries account for 61% of the world’s population living in modern slavery
- Africa and Asia continue to face biggest challenges
Mauritania was again the country where slavery was most prevalent by head of population while Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, rose up the rank from 96th place to be listed as the fourth worst country by percentage of the population.
“From children denied an education by being forced to work or marry early, to men unable to leave their work because of crushing debts they owe to recruitment agents, to women and girls exploited as unpaid, abused domestic workers, modern slavery has many faces,” the report said.
“It still exists today, in every country – modern slavery affects us all.”
The index defines slavery as the control or possession of people in such a way as to deprive them of their freedom with the intention of exploiting them for profit or sex, usually through violence, coercion or deception.
The definition includes indentured servitude, forced marriage and the abduction of children to serve in wars.
Ten countries account for 71 per cent of world’s slaves
Highest prevalence of slavery
Highest number of people in slavery
Source: Walk Free Global Slavery Index
Hereditary slavery is deeply entrenched in the West African country of Mauritania, where four per cent of the population of 3.9 million is estimated to be enslaved, the report said.
After Mauritania, slavery was most prevalent in Uzbekistan, where citizens are forced to pick cotton every year to meet state-imposed cotton quotas, and Haiti, where the practice of sending poor children to stay with richer acquaintances or relatives routinely leads to abuse and forced labour, it said.
Ranked fourth was Qatar.
The tiny Gulf state relies heavily on migrants to build its mega-projects including soccer stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.
It has come under scrutiny by rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers, most from Asia, who come to toil on construction sites, oil projects or work as domestic help.
The next highest prevalence rates were found in India, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Syria and Central African Republic.
The index showed that 10 countries alone account for 71 per cent of the world’s slaves.
After India, China has the most slaves with 3.2 million, then Pakistan (2.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), Russia (1.05 million), Nigeria (834,200), Democratic Republic of Congo (762,900), Indonesia (714,100), Bangladesh (680,900) and Thailand (475,300).
Anti-slavery laws not met by action
For the first time, the index rated governments on their response to slavery.
It found the Netherlands, followed by Sweden, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Britain, Georgia and Austria had the strongest response.
At the opposite end of the scale, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Republic of Congo and Iraq had the worst responses.
“Every country in the world apart from North Korea has laws that criminalise some form of slavery, yet most governments could do more to assist victims and root out slavery from supply chains,” Walk Free Foundation’s head of global research, Fiona David, said.
“What the results show is that a lot is being done on paper but it’s not necessarily translating into results,” Ms David said.
“Most countries got 50 per cent or less when we looked at the strength of their victim assistance regime.
“It’s also striking that … out of 167 countries we could only find three (Australia, Brazil and the United States) where governments have put things in place on supply chains.”
The report showed conflict had a direct impact on the prevalence of slavery, Ms David said, citing the example of the Islamic State militant group which has abducted women and girls in Iraq and Syria for use as sex slaves.
“What our numbers show is the correlation really is quite strong so as an international community, we need to make planning for this kind of problem part of the humanitarian response to crisis situations,” she said.
In an article entitled “the revival of slavery”, published on behalf of “an official Islamic State spokesman”, the group appears to defend its enslavement of women.
It suggests enslaving families and “taking their women” is firmly established in the Koran, and suggestion otherwise would be anti-Islam and “mocking” towards the prophet.
The article threatens enemies that followers of IS will “enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted”, and details conquests in which “women and children were divided according to the Shari’ah among the fighters of the Islamic State”.
It goes on to highlight the disadvantages of abandoning slavery.
“The desertion of slavery have let to an increase in fahishah (adultery, fornication, etc.),” it says.
“This again is from the consequences of abandoning jihad.”
The disturbing messaging comes as humanitarian organisation Human Rights Watch has published a shocking report on Islamic State’s treatment of women and girls.
“The Islamic State’s litany of horrific crimes against the Yezidis in Iraq only keeps growing,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch.
“At this point of the crusade against the Islamic State, it is very important that attacks take place in every country that has entered into the alliance against the Islamic State, especially the US, UK, France, Australia and Germany,” it states.
“The citizens of crusader nations should be targeted wherever they can be found.”