April 5th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

How you can help: Slavery in the supply chain

It’s easy to say that human trafficking is a violation against basic human rights and that it should be abolished. And we often assume that modern-day slavery only takes place in countries far away, that it doesn’t affect us, and that we in no way contribute to the perpetuation of this terrible crime.

Unfortunately, nothing is as clear cut as that. According to UN.GIFT, 161 countries worldwide are reported to be affected by human trafficking. These countries are found on every continent and represent every type of economy.

Chances are, you have purchased, eaten, or are wearing something tainted by slavery. You can see what these tainted products are on Anti-Slavery International’s interactive map.

Some recent CNN Freedom Project reports include those from Thailand and California in the United States.

Charities working to help victims in these countries include: DEPDC in Thailand; Not For Sale works in both the U.S. and Thailand.

Unfortunately, there is currently no way of knowing whether the seafood you are eating is fair trade or not, however, there are efforts underway by the Fairtrade Foundation  to create a fair-trade seafood certification process.

Patagonia,  as seen in Barbara Starr’s report from California, performs internal audits to ensure the integrity of its clothing. Another brand of fair-trade clothing is No Chains, which will be featured in the upcoming weeks.

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Topics: Business • How to Help

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Beam49

    Horrifyingly sad...:( I knew it was bad but I didn't realize it was this bad nor this widespread. I have been praying for these children for years...will continue to do so. Boycotting the companies that are using this slave labor would be great once you figure out which ones it is..especially those involving children. All these big companies need to investigate closely whether slaves are being used to make their products..its no excuse to say they didn't know...(maybe you do have some companies listed..I haven't read through all the information yet on this) thanks for exposing it! When we don't know we can't do anything to help.

    April 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  2. KenX

    The article did not say anything about "these children". It addressed kids and adults.

    A real piece of news would say: "XYZ Corp has been indicted for federal labor law violations involing XX number of people from XXXXXX country. The indictment reads........ THe trail is set for XX/XX/XX."

    These CNN articles dont say anything about arrests or convictions or trials that support the numbers quoted. I dont doubt that trafficking exists, but I think there is a whole lot of exaggeration because I dont see the arrests and convictions supporting the numbers.. You cannot traffikcing "200,000 people" into the US each year and not see anything and be expected to believe it is all underground. No way. Too many poeple.

    I think we have several things going on. First, we have a bunch of 6-figrue bureacrats trying to justify thier federal govt jobs. Then we have the media using the trafficking program to justify anmesty for illegal aliens.

    My hometown newspaper ( the Kansas City Star) tried this. Poeple did not buy it. They were not as clever as CNN, but that may be the underlying political objective.

    April 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • victimsadvo

      You hit the nail on the head KenX. This is "yellow journalism" at best. It was written most likely to stir-up controversy.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:51 am | Reply
    • Nesrin

      Big up! Really nice guest post on that blog, haven't really been there ago. I guess it's worth cknchieg out as much as yours is worth reading. Cheers!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  3. abdullah

    When comparing modern civilization with the principles of the Qur'an, all immorality and instability in the social life of man proceeds from two sources:

    The First: "Once my stomach is full, what do I care if others die of hungers"

    The Second: "You work, and I'll eat."

    That which perpetuates these two is the prevalence of usury and interest on the one hand, and the abandonment of zakat on the other. The only remedy able to cure these two awesome social diseases lies in implementing zakat as a universal principle and in forbidding usury. Zakat is a most essential support of happiness not merely for individuals and particular societies, but for all of humanity. There are two classes of men: the upper classes and the common people. It is only zakat that will induce compassion and generosity in the upper classes toward the common people, and respect and obedience in the common people toward the upper classes. In the absence of zakat, the upper classes will descend on the common people with cruelty and oppression, and the common people will rise up against the upper classes in rancour and rebellion. There will be a constant struggle, a persistent opposition between the two classes of men. It will finally result in the confrontation of capital and labour, as happened in Russia.

    April 6, 2011 at 2:57 am | Reply
  4. idb

    Human trafficking is the result of the failure of the US government to act on illegal aliens. The solutions are quit simple. Inspect businesses and make E-Verify mandatory. If illegals are found, deport them on expense of the business owner and punish the business owner for the illegally gained profits. The message that needs to be send is clear. Slavery is not acceptable.

    April 6, 2011 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • TW, DC

      confusing illegal immigration and human trafficking is the exact reason we haven't been able to stop this crime. Some people believe that if a person is undocumented, that they deserve to be abused and exploited and so instead of fighting human trafficking, they blame the victim. Traffickers use the person's fear of police and immigration as a way to control and abuse them- and that fear is validated when people say that "illegals" are the problem and not the horrible human beings who buy and sell them. Globalization/trade and financial policies are making families in other countries desperate to earn a living and support themselves- many times they think they are coming to the US to work legitimately and are then trafficked. To stop human trafficking, we need to focus on the root causes about why people put themselves into vulnerable situations, not focusing on prosecution or border control. We should take a preventative approach from the beginning and help people who want to stay in their home countries.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:55 am | Reply
  5. Adi

    This article was really touching...and all of us have to UNITE to stop this crime from happening. There are many other issues in the world which need to be resolved soon such as Human Trafficking, Bullying, Murder, War only to name a few...

    April 6, 2011 at 10:00 am | Reply
  6. cindym

    most of the products we buy, eat, wear, listen to or watch aren't made in the U.S. so stopping illegal immagration is going to do very little to help victims. I realize this does go on in our country but as the article stated, this is a worldwide problem. large profitable corporations that feign ignorance need to be held accountable and of course multiple govt's need to work together for a solution. And everyday people like us need to let these corp's & govt's know we expect them to act.

    April 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Reply
    • Soledad

      It is hilarious that the left wing nfrige has determined not only with their rhetoric, but with their posts that it is far worse to raffle off a gun (if it for republicans) than to give guns to drug runners who shoot American authorities. Good to know that your priorities haven't changed. Have a fake drink on me, losers.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  7. Rose

    Is there anyway CNN could publish a clear cut definition of what constitutes "modern-day slavery"? Paying workers less than minimum wage in the US is a clear violation of federal law, but where do we draw the line in foreign countries if they do not have clear labor laws to begin with?
    I love that CNN has initiated this. It would be nice to get more details on what products to avoid as well as suggestions for alternatives.

    April 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  8. Rose

    **by products, I mean brands/companies/corporations.
    I saw the interactive map of tainted products.

    April 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  9. Fowardblue

    I really like this project and the information that I am learning, but the USA had none? I just read an article on this site where a woman was held for 40 days making dresses in California. I am very concerned about the slavery in the USA. I live here and cannot imagine that we had a civil wat to end slavery. I work with kids in NC who have lost their parents in one way or another, sometimes they are deported and the kids are left here. The parents have been killed and so on. I love taking care of the kids but I wish there was not a need for me to take care of them.

    April 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  10. MannyHM

    Solving modern day slavery ? The initial approach would be to severely punish the offenders with prison time as well as telling them to admit their faults on TV primetime as well as using sting operation to catch them. Offering those victims a special pathway into U.S. would be effective however we have to be cognizant of the fact that they can create stories also to gain sympathy with the ultimate purpose of gaining U.S. refuge.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  11. kevin

    Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.Human trafficking is a global issue after reading the article I would like to share few documentaries on the same issue.

    Child sex trafficking has become an epidemic in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

    watch the documentary 'Daughters and Sons: Preventing Child Trafficking in the Golden Triangle'
    another documentary "The Dark Side of Chocolate" is a journalistic documentary which will reveal for the first time on film the hideous truth behind the manufacturing of German and international chocolate, as sold and enjoyed in Germany and the rest of the world.

    you may watch both of these and many other such documentaries on different social issues on Culture Unplugged

    April 8, 2011 at 1:31 am | Reply
  12. Profe

    This is yelow journalournalournalism

    April 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  13. teresa, ohio

    I'm surprised: of the 11 products made by human traffickers slaves, weed was not on the list.

    April 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  14. junny

    The problem start when countries was using humans as slaves. If you watch the news you'll see they are still prosecuting counties or people about war-crimes , but haven't see no one or countries prosecuted for slavery having slaves, or have use slaves to buid their capital. That is why some countries still are in that kind of bussines. Solution ???
    Start prosecuting countirs of money laundring by using slaves, confiscate their bank accounts, share some of that money to those slave victims ,and give the suspects labour sentence (so that they will feell how it feels working for free)

    April 11, 2011 at 9:05 am | Reply
  15. junny

    An other truth is that durning Holocaust 6mill humans were slaughterd and they are still prosecuting some people but there are more that 50million people who was/are/is or will be humiliated by slavery (most black still today because of there color) , and no one is firmly prosecuted to send the message world wide , slavery have put the world on imbalance.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:26 am | Reply
  16. junny

    Modern or rich countries have modern style of enslaving people. Have a lot of debts you'll see what the system will do to you !!!!!!!!! Right or wrong ?

    April 11, 2011 at 9:47 am | Reply
  17. Ron

    There needs to be a list of brands and companies around the world to avoid. I won't buy anything from India but is that fair? I am sure there are some good companies there. Companies that are using slave products need to be publicized, like a shopping list. A little card we can all put in our wallets and download the new one monthly.

    May 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  18. Ron

    Or how about a slave free label? Just so we know.

    May 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  19. katy

    Good articles, but I would like to see specifics. What am I getting from Walmart that is slave or forced labor? What shoes am I buying, what foods am I eating, etc. I'd love to get some boycotts going, but need specifics.

    June 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
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