“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An estimated 45.8 million human beings are enslaved on this earth according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. I've been turning this number over and around and upside down in my brain trying to grasp its weight. How many lives it has destroyed. How many families it has torn apart.
That’s the population of my home state of Nebraska 25 times over. That’s the stranger I passed in the store last night. The children playing across the street in their backyard. My coworkers, friends... My family.
As I continued to delve into this hidden horror, I began to experience this overwhelming feeling of helplessness that I had never known. This issue that I had never even understood to be in existence today is not only around but it is thriving.
Men, women and children alike are being forced into physical labor, indentured servitude and prostitution at alarming rates — Cambodia, Uzbekistan and North Korea rank the top three countries with the highest rates of enslavement per capita. At a whopping 4.4%, that’s approximately 1 in every 24 people enslaved in North Korea.
India, however, claims the number one spot in terms of modern slaves by sheer volume. An estimated 1.4% of people have fallen victim to slavery in the region.
18,354,700 Indian lives, trapped in a life of enslavement.
I’d venture a guess that you may be feeling a bit like I did — Full of disbelief, shock, hurt... Maybe even a little angry. As I sit in my local coffee shop writing to acknowledge the realities of slavery and the depths of poverty that are occurring, I become frustrated realizing that the likelihood of any of these 50 people around me know nothing of the sort.
So what do we do?
We educate ourselves. Like I became educated. Like Laura, the founder of Global Hues Marketplace, became educated.
And then we fight back.
In order to understand how these evils grow their roots so deeply within these regions, we must first understand the state of vulnerability in which so many of these people reside. This is what creates and sustains a culture of enslavement and poverty.
According to the Global Slavery Index, there are 4 dimensions of vulnerability:
- Civil and Political Protections: This includes unstable governments, sex based discrimination, and access to weapons.
- Social Health and Economic Rights: This includes unpaid debts, access to food and clean water, and susceptibility to disease.
- Personal Security: This includes poor distribution of wealth, susceptibility to crime and discrimination against minorities.
- Refugee Populations and Conflict: This includes acts of terrorism and refugee populations.
Any combination of these risk factors create opportunities for at-risk populations to fall into the trap of slavery.
Now that we know that lack of self-sustainability and desperation combine to create a platform for slavery, what actions can we take to combat these issues?
That is exactly what organizations like Global Hues Marketplace are in business to accomplish. We are passionate about creating social justice through fair trade.
Our core mission is to end:
- Poverty by creating jobs and empowering those who work.
- Sex Trafficking by educating our customers and partnering with those actively fighting the fight (such as O.U.R.).
- Slavery by using fair trade practices and bringing awareness to the cause.
So, if you’ve made it this far with me, thanks for reading. It is my sincere hope that you have learned something you weren’t aware of previously and have been inspired to act accordingly and stand with us. These evils hide in the shadows, hoping that the general public will remain unaware of their acts. But the word is getting out to those who won’t allow such injustice...
And we like to fight.
If you have witnessed what you suspect to be human trafficking, please call the confidential End Slavery Now Hotline: 1-888-373-7888. “When in doubt, CALL!”