Human trafficking can be eradicated with your help and a new US law

Today, over 49 million people live in so-called modern slavery, including one in 130 women and girls, and the problem is getting worse every day. Although we often imagine human trafficking as shadowy figures in alleyways kidnapping victims – and it often does – the reality is that we may unwittingly perpetuate human exploitation and even profit from their loot by ignoring those we buy goods are manufactured.

Fortunately, the government is taking steps to change this, and there is much that businesses and consumers can do as well.

January is National Trafficking Prevention Month. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which went into effect last summer, is probably the most comprehensive import legislation in modern US history, targeting forced labor and urging the global retail industry to take an unprecedented step in the fight against human trafficking to do.

Every year, an estimated $125 billion worth of clothing is manufactured in some form of slavery and imported into the world’s wealthiest countries. While we’ve certainly seen consumers express a desire for more supply chain transparency and awareness, positive changes have come in small increments – until now.

The UFLPA, currently in its first full year of action, will transform the American fashion industry by transforming the way the United States imports goods from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), one of the most common sourcing regions of the world industry. Here, members of the Uyghur ethnic minority are forced to do state-sponsored work – but goods produced there may no longer be used as US imports. Under the UFLPA, U.S. authorities must assume that any goods or merchandise manufactured in XUAR were produced—in whole or in part—by forced labor. That means a ban on all goods from the XUAR unless there is “clear and convincing evidence” that they were not made that way.

This is a paradigm shift for retail. As recently as 2020, an estimated 20 percent of the world’s cotton was produced under forced labor conditions in the XUAR, much of which goes into the jeans and t-shirts we buy. Under the UFLPA this can no longer happen. What makes the law even more notable is that the law bans goods that are even partially manufactured in the XUAR. So if 90 percent of a sweater’s manufacturing process took place in India or Bangladesh, but the remaining 10 percent of the production process had to go through the XUAR, that sweater cannot be imported into the United States for sale.

Historically, supply chains have been difficult to audit as they can involve intricate steps and materials sourced from many factories and locations – and this has allowed unethical manufacturers to slip their wares through the grid. Now, the UFLPA offers our country the opportunity to obtain clear evidence of exactly where and how supply chain abuse is taking place – enabling effective application and enforcement of the law.

A photo shows a label
A photo illustration shows a label on a garment that reads “Made in China”.

Supportive steps have already been taken on the consumer side. In fact, young people are adamant about where they place their support, with 83 percent of young consumers saying they want the brands they buy to align with their beliefs, and 65 percent reporting they have a history of branding boycotted because of their values.

Although the term “boycott” dates back to the 19th century, purse voting dates back even further. One of the first records dates from the early 1700s, and perhaps most notably from 1791, when two British abolitionists, William Fox and James Wright, opposed the purchase of sugar made by enslaved people in the Caribbean. They published pamphlets urging consumers to boycott slave-produced sugar and formed a movement that earned a nickname: the Anti-Saccharites.

Today, nearly 250 years later, consumers can continue the time-honored tradition of voting with their dollars. When shoppers spend their hard-earned cash on clothes made in verified ethical factories that pay workers, they show brands exactly where they stand — and give the industry an incentive to clean up.

While legislative action like the UFLPA and consumer protection action are both critical steps to ending modern-day slavery in supply chains, we can take even stronger steps to lead the way. Brands can make a difference by knowing exactly what is happening at every step of their supply chain, by conducting third-party verification of workplace safety and wages at each of their factories, and by sharing their progress towards transparency with consumers. By striving for progress rather than perfection, brands can align with their customers’ values ​​and help reduce forced labor.

As more brands take these kinds of actions, they get closer to becoming industry standards. And changes like this are in every brand’s best interest – not only to not dilute the integrity of their brand, but also to pave the way for a world where no one is forced to work under duress. Clothing should be an industry of joy and self-expression. But when forced labor contributes to its production, it becomes an industry of suffering. Let’s all work to raise the standard.

Jane Mosbacher Morris is Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET, a technology platform driving the ethical supply chain. She is also the author of Buy the change you want to see (Penguin Random House, 2019). She previously worked in the Office of Counterterrorism and the Secretariat for Global Women’s Affairs at the US State Department.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own. Human trafficking can be eradicated with your help and a new US law

Rick Schindler

World Time Todays is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button