“After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.” Combating this $32 billion-dollar-a-year industry takes enormous effort as well as a large framework of diligent abolitionists. Slavery is wrapped up in almost every industry’s supply chain, tainting the food we eat, the clothes we buy and the electronics we love.
All businesses have supply chains. Numerous small companies work to provide the cotton in our t-shirts, the metals in our laptops and cellphones, as well as the sugar in our desserts. These raw materials come from all over the world. The businesses selling our t-shirts and chocolate and cell phones rarely know where these raw materials are coming from, or who is assembling the products before their final stages. This lack of transparency allows for unregulated production and many times unsafe or illegal practices in the workplace, including modern day slavery.
Vulnerable people and communities are targeted by recruiters, and traffickers and through deception, fraud and coercion are brought into slavery. While sex trafficking is often at the forefront of our awareness, slave labor and debt bondage are more common. Sometimes entire villages with few economic opportunities are targeted as ideal laborers who do not have other options. Often they will not immediately realize that the small loan they accepted will never be paid off due to the high interest rate charged by the lender. These situations are largely contextualized by a lack of economic empowerment. Identifying these regions and people is critical to stemming the tide of human trafficking.