Would you believe me if I tell you, even in the 21st century, slavery exists!
Not only exists but is at its peak and thriving, despite being banned in every country across the World?
You might let it pass thinking, all kinds of people make the World and such unfortunate things do happen, after all there are a lot of mean people out there.
What if I tell you, you and me are also helping slavery thrive not just in other parts of the World, but in our own country. We are equally responsible for ensuring it continues to exist and flourish!
Men, women and children are bought and sold, made to work in inhuman conditions, not paid a penny for their labour and subjected to violence everyday. Defiance most often results in death.
Yes all these are not tales from the medieval times but facts as they exist now in 2015
I recently happened to watch a documentary on Slavery by Brian Woods and Kate Blewett. It is a documentary, which takes us around the World to places where slavery exists and slaves are traded. An industry which depends on misleading people, in stealing innocent children from their homes and taking them to places from where they rarely have a chance to return. From the Ivory coast to the villages of Varanasi where small children are smuggled from other states to farm cocoa or to weave carpets; are made to work for 18-20 hours a day for free. The stories of their misery are soul breaking especially when you realise that they are being treated bad to feed a consumerist society and its ever increasing demand for something better, cheaper.
The chocolate we relish with such joy is paid for with the blood and sweat of innumerable child slaves.’It’s 2015 and there are now more child slaves than there were in 2001. 51% more, in fact. There are now 1.4 million children carrying back-breaking sacks of cocoa, having their bodies whipped and beaten and crushing themselves from dawn to dusk for no pay.’
The carpets we use to adorn our floors and walls are soaked in tears of child slaves, languishing in the hundreds of nondescript looms dotting the length and breadth of Northern India.
Come Diwali and the crackers you burn to express your joy, mostly come from Sivakasi, a place known for abusing children and promoting child labour.
This afternoon, I showed, the documentary to my seven year old son, just to see how he would react, to it. Like any kid his age, he loves his chocolates. He was horrified to see the plight of other kids his age and made a promise that he will avoid eating chocolate and cocoa products. Was I happy to hear that? At some level yes, I am glad he was sensitive towards the plight of another, human being.
But is banning the solution? Will the decision to not buy chocolates or other cocoa products or not buy carpets from such places rid us of our responsibility and part in encouraging such inhuman trade practices?
Not really, a fall in demand is going to result in other problems, a slow demand is going to affect production and the need for cheaper labor to sustain, will only increase the need for more slaves than paid workers.
Instead, we need to act like responsible consumers. We have to be conscious of the choices we make, we have to teach ourselves to know the source of our products, whether the brands we consume act responsibly. We have to push our governments to introduce fair trade certifications for all industries, so that we can choose to buy from companies who ensure fair trade practices. And those who don’t follow, are forced to follow, else they perish.
Retailers, should stop stocking brands that do not have such certifications, the advantage of having a capitalist economy is that the consumer drives the demand, he gets to choose, to decide, to make or break a company.
Change won’t happen overnight, but if each one of us decides to act as a responsible consumer, change is inevitable. It is imperative, we come together and tackle this menace as a community. It is criminal to celebrate and feast when another human has to pay for our treats with his flesh and blood.
We cannot shirk our responsibility and stay indifferent to the plight of millions of unfortunate people, who have been forced to give up on their fundamental right to freedom.
Give it a thought, an unjust World leaves little hope for us and our children…
Post By Merlin Francis