by Amanda Kloer
On this Thanksgiving day, many of us are counting our blessings. Or at least, trying to count our blessings while Aunt Betty and Cousin Bob fight about politics, Little Mackenzie sings Hanna Montana at the top of her lungs, and mom shoves a fourth slice of pie down your throat while asking intrusive questions. But you know who else has something to be thankful for today? Corporations who use slave labor to make their goods. Here are seven reasons why they are feeling grateful today, too.
7. Their lobby groups are going to oppose a ban on goods made by child labor. The powerful lobby for big business isn’t going to stand by and let their poor clients be hurt by an audacious bill which would ban the import of goods made by child or forced labor to the U.S. They’re going to fight to keep those children and slaves working hard.
6. Most major U.S. grocery chains carry few or no Fair Trade products. When large chains carry few or no Fair Trade options (or hide those options on the bottom self), customers are more likely to continue to buy the cheap, slave-made products that earn a huge profit for the companies that make them. It’s a good thing for corporations that use slaves when large chains don’t carry Fair Trade.
5. The holiday season is about quantity, not quality. These corporations are really thankful that people get so caught up in the holiday season, they often ascribe value to sheer quantity of stuff bought over issues like where it came from and how it was produced. They really hope consumers don’t wise up and start shopping with an eye to where their holiday purchases came from.
4. The global recession has made more people than ever before vulnerable to slavery. There is no shortage of vulnerable workers in desperate need of a job, just waiting to be exploited and enslaved. The global recession has really expanded the labor pool of potential slaves for corporations to pick from. Now they can weed out anyone who might cause a fuss by demanding rights or pay.
3. Media is much more likely to expose slavery in prostitution than other industries. Corporate slave-holders know that even if human trafficking is exposed this holiday season, it’s likely that the focus will be on trafficking into prostitution, and not the slaves who make their products. Not a lot of people buy sexual services as gifts for each other, but a lot buy shoes, clothes, and electronics made by trafficking victims.
2. Everyone is about to eat more chocolate. The cocoa industry is going to see a boost this season when chocolate consumption goes up around the holidays. Unfortunately, the children and adults forced to work harvesting cocoa with little or no pay won’t be seeing any of those extra profits.
1. A lot of people are still in the dark about slavery in consumer goods. The biggest reason that corporations who use slaves are giving thanks today is that many people still don’t know that many components of goods we use and wear and live with every day are made by slaves. And what they don’t know, the corporations think, won’t hurt anyone.
Slave-holder corporations may have a lot to be thankful for today, but so do I. I’m thankful that you’re reading this post. I’m thankful that you’re thinking about ways to make better choices in what you buy, both for gifts and for yourself, this holiday season. I’m thankful that you and I are part of a dedicated community of activists on Change.org who are making a difference in the lives of at-risk and trafficked persons around the world. Together, we can take away all the reasons human traffickers and those who profit from the slavery of others have to give thanks.
Photo credit: basykes