Human Trafficking and Fair Trade

Many people do not realize the simple act of buying fair trade helps to combat the world wide problem of human trafficking. Although Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which took place on January 11th, has already passed, we of course did not let this memorable day pass us by.  In consideration of this day, we are exploring the relationship between fair trade and slave free supply chains that reduce the demand for trafficked labor.

The United States government considers human trafficking to include all of the criminal conduct involved in forced labor and sex trafficking, essentially the conduct involved in reducing or holding someone in compelled service. This act of modern slavery can take multiple forms; including forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, and child soldiers. Victims of trafficking are often mislead into taking jobs that appear to be legitimate or sold into a trade by someone they know. More than 33,000 victims of trafficking were identified in 2010, but the actual number of victims is estimated to be in the millions. Hundreds of thousands of trafficked persons are transported in the United States each year.

The U.S. Department of Labor has identified numerous goods produced by child or forced labor around the world; including cotton, textiles, silver, gold, ceramics, cocoa, coffee, and tea. One of the easiest ways to fight against these forms of human trafficking is to buy fair trade certified products. When a person buys fair trade, they are buying products priced in a way that ensures workers are fairly compensated for the time, labor, and materials needed to make the good. When a worker receives a fair wage they can buy food, clothing, and shelter and improve their quality of life.

Volunteers and customers alike—remember that your time and purchases at Ten Thousand Villages helps to promote fair trade while also reducing the demand for trafficked labor around the world!

-Meredith Melecki, Ten Thousand Villages Board of Directors Secretary