Posts Tagged ‘slavery’

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As many of you know, we try to be frugal: food from Grocery Outlet (discount store), clothes from Thrift Town, baby clothes from friends, (one) car from eleven years ago. But even after our year overseas, and the re-evaluation of our lifestyle, there are still a few things we’ll spend top dollar on: chocolate, coffee, and Christmas cards.

Why those? Because they can all be bought fair trade, meaning that unlike cheapo Hallmark cards or Hershey’s chocolates,* the people making them are guaranteed a fair wage and livable working conditions.** They don’t grow cacao or coffee at Samaritana, but they do make greeting cards. These are a great way to broaden awareness of the human beings on the other side of every purchase, while also investing in relationships with your family and friends. At Samaritana, each woman signs the card after she makes it, and it also includes a few sentences about how the purchase helps that woman build a new life.

We saw the difference fair trade makes firsthand during our time in Manila. Although the Samaritana women are also trained in catering, house cleaning, jewelry making, and sewing, the card business is their best income source. Two of the women we knew not only fed their children this way, but also paid for electricity to be connected to their parents’ rural home. For a few dollars more than the generic brand, these products helped an entire family—and that, in short, is the power of fair trade.

Granted, five dollars a card might seem like a lot–but it’s comparable to other handmade cards you’ll find at specialty stationery stores, and not that much more than customized photo cards you get online. But best of all, every card you buy is a step toward the kind of world we want to raise our children in.

Cards (Christmas, holiday, and general greeting) made by Samaritana women are available at Samaritana’s US partner, Sanctuary Spring.

–Nate

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*Historically, Hershey’s has been a notable violator of fair-trade practices. They recently committed to certifying 100% of their cocoa in the future, but have been vague on which certifications they will adopt. The upshot is, whether it’s Hershey’s, Nestle, Dove, or any other brand, unless you see the black-and-white Fair Trade logo on the wrapper, it was likely produced using slave labor.

**We’re happy to report that most of the major coffee chains now sell a fair-trade variety, including Caribou, Dunn Bros, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peets, Starbucks–and even Costco and Wal-Mart! For a longer list of shops selling fair-trade coffee, plus other fair-trade foods, you can scan this guy’s blog post. (Just remember that you have to ask for the Fair Trade coffee, since in most cases these places won’t automatically serve it.)

Nearly a decade ago, Nate handed me a copy of National Geographic and told me I should read the story there about modern-day slavery. It was the first time we’d heard the number 27 million (in reference to the number of modern-day slaves) or the name Kevin Bales (cited as the world’s leading expert).

Tonight Nate and I will get to meet Dr. Bales and hear him speak to the hundreds of people attending The Slave Next Door in Berkeley. For people who haven’t read much about human trafficking, the name Kevin Bales might not mean anything, but for me, it’s like meeting the Michael Jordan of the modern abolitionist movement. Not only is it thanks to Dr. Bales that we learned about the topic in the first place, but his book Disposable People played a large role in convincing us to spend a year of our lives in the Philippines working with victims of trafficking.

Along with Dr. Bales, the keynote speaker, we have an all-star supporting cast. Bay Area trafficking survivor Minh Dang will tell her story, followed by a panel of local experts including Nathan George from Trade As One, Officer Holly Joshi from the Oakland Police Department, and Tashina Manyak from M.I.S.S.S.E.Y. Nate and I are also humbled and grateful to be speaking as well. The evening will end with a fair trade bazaar including artisan chocolate tasting, crafts and gifts, and a chance to meet local heroes fighting trafficking.

Sounds great, right? But we need your help.

If you’re local, please attend! Invite your friends. Tell everyone you know about it. I’ve had the chance to attend and help plan many events on this topic over the past five years, and this is the most exciting one I’ve been a part of. While the topic is grim, there’s a lot of hope to be found in this evening. The message tonight is not that life is depressing, but that there is so much we can do to make a difference. Come to be inspired. Come to make a difference. Every ticket purchase goes toward Samaritana, New Day for Children, and M.I.S.S.S.E.Y.

If you’re not local, I’m asking you to pray today and this evening (the event will take place from 7:00-9:30 p.m.). While it’s not an explicitly Christian event, I believe it is an event that God would love to bless. The Bible is filled with the message that God cares about the oppressed, and this event will benefit the women and children here and around the world who need it most. We have seen firsthand how powerful prayer can be, and know that this event will be a shadow of what it could be without it. Pray that the event will be well-attended. Pray that things will go smoothly for everyone involved. Pray that people will leave the event changed, that they will find it in their hearts to care. Pray that this would be the beginning of something big!

Thank you to everyone who is partnering with us both here in the Bay Area, and around the world.

-Laura

The U.S. State Department has an Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and since 2001 they’ve released an annual report summarizing efforts on the issue. We’ve copied here former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s introductory letter from 2007, which is especially well-written.

Read the full Trafficking in Persons Reports here.

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June 12, 2007

Dear Reader:

Two hundred years ago, the British Parliament outlawed the trans-Atlantic slave trade, culminating a decades-long struggle led by William Wilberforce.

Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, a new type of global slave trade. Perpetrators prey on the most weak among us, primarily women and children, for profit and gain. They lure victims into involuntary servitude and sexual slavery. Today we are again called by conscience to end the debasement of our fellow men and women. As in the 19th century, committed abolitionists around the world have come together in a global movement to confront this repulsive crime. President George W. Bush has committed the United States Government to lead in combating this serious 21st century challenge, and all nations that are resolved to end human trafficking have a strong partner in the United States.

The seventh annual Trafficking in Persons Report documents efforts by foreign governments to prevent human trafficking, prosecute criminals, and protect their victims. The report probes even the darkest places, calling to account any country, friend or foe, that is not doing enough to combat human trafficking.

The power of shame has stirred many to action and sparked unprecedented reforms; and the growing awareness has prompted important progress in combating this crime and assisting its victims wherever they are found.

Defeating human trafficking is a great moral calling of our day. Together with our allies and friends, we will continue our efforts to bring this cruel practice to an end. Thank you for joining the new abolitionist movement. Together we can make a difference, and together we can build a safer, freer, and more prosperous world for all.

Sincerely,

Condoleezza Rice

Indian child working at a brick factory

Are you ready? There is no going back.

Since you’re online, the Free the Slaves and International Justice Mission web sites are a great place to start.

For a brief introduction, and for auditory learners, this talk by Kevin Bales (University of Surrey professor and leading slavery scholar) is a great place to start. If you’d prefer to watch a movie, we recommend Call+Response, a “rockumentary” involving several notable actresses and musicians.

For book-length treatments of the subject, pick up Disposable People (also by Kevin Bales), his pioneering study of slavery around the world today. Not for Sale, by David Batstone, is a similarly well-researched tour of representative examples of slavery in various countries worldwide; he is a University of California journalism professor. Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom and Terrify no More focus on prostitution, the latter discussing International Justice Mission’s sometimes-dramatic work rescuing enslaved women.

National Geographic also did a story (September 2003 issue) on 21st-century slaves, with their trademark compelling photos. Read an excerpt here.

Nepalese girls at a brothel in Calcutta

Wasn’t slavery abolished? Yes, it was, in the United Kingdom in 1807 and the United States in 1865. And technically, slavery is illegal in every country in the world–just like smuggling drugs and weapons–and those are the only two black-market activities that make more money than selling humans. (According to the FBI, slavery is a $9 billion+ global business). After all, why pay someone to work when you can make them work for free?

That is why there are an estimated 27 million slaves today, the secret labor force in almost every country around the globe: making bricks, sewing clothes, staffing restaurants, picking fruit, or in prostitution. For an overview of modern-day slavery, watch this excellent 18-minute talk from the TED Conference by Kevin Bales, the world’s leading scholar in the area.

[Photo by Jill Filipovic.]

–Nate