- 20.9 million people are victims of forced labor and human trafficking. 5.5 million of those are children.
- Human trafficking generates an estimated $150 million in yearly profits for individuals and corporation.
When faced with what feels like no other choice, a person survives by doing whatever they have to do. For some who have struggled in chronic poverty their entire lives, this might mean that they believe a job offer that takes them away from their community and into a life of brutalizing work conditions and, frequently, abuse and exploitation.
All for very little compensation or “reward.”
For a parent who sees no other option, this may mean they accept the promise of a good job and better future and, often unwittingly, hand their child or children into the hands of traffickers in return for a “bond” or advance salary payment. Inevitably, this leads to long hours in sweatshops, abuse, or forced prostitution.
Human trafficking isn’t only happening in developing countries. It’s been reported in all 50 states in the U.S. and is truly a global crisis.
There are no quick and easy solutions, but the Fair Trade movement is at the forefront of putting a stop to this cruel practice that destroys communities, families, and individual lives.
Here's how two Fair Trade organizations make a positive difference in people's lives:
Bringing "hope to the poor and oppressed people of our world" is central to Asha Imports' mission. They employ women living in the slums of India and other regions of Southeast Asia to offer a way out of poverty and exploitation. Whether it is making jute bags or hand-stitching recycled textiles, Asha artisans are able to earn a living wage and support their families with freedom and self-autonomy.
And they create gorgeous Kantha throws and scarves that you can find at Global Gifts stores!
Coming from a belief that, "the same free market that turns women into commodities can be transformed into a force for social good," Sanctuary Spring provides women in the Philippines with skills training and sustainable AND dignified jobs.
Many of the women who are employed by Sanctuary Spring are rebuilding their lives after being tricked into prostitution or choosing it in the face of crushing poverty where no other option seemed available.
When women discover that they DO have another choice, like Sanctuary Spring, they earn money to support themselves and their families in dignified ways. They learn to sew and make handmade paper cards, or further hone craft skills they already had.
They make clever and beautiful paper products available at Global Gifts!
While human trafficking and prostitution are not exactly the same thing, both dramatically and negatively affect the health and well-being and sense of true ownership of a person's body and self. Fair Trade offers access to improved economic opportunities for families so that they aren't lured into traps set by traffickers or they don't feel forced to "sell" their children into a life of bondage. Fair Trade ensures that women and men have a voice and more choice for how they earn funds and how much they are compensated.
When you choose to spend your money buying Fair Trade products, you have the assurance that you are playing a role in supporting these positive changes that will, hopefully, one day bring an end to human trafficking, chronic poverty, and exploitation. You benefit from purchasing a skillfully handmade item and the artisans benefit from working in a safe, dignified, and free way.
[Photo credit: Asha Imports and Sanctuary Spring]