Latest modern slavery fight updates - FreedomUnited.org

Christmas Generosity and Modern Slavery

  • Published on
    December 23, 2017
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Anti-Slavery Activists, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Supply Chain
Hero Banner

During the Christmas season we think of our family and friends, but we may not think about how our purchases may actually be propping up businesses that thrive on forced labor. Grace Forrest, Founding Director of the Walk Free Foundation, writes that the abuses that happens further on down the supply chain are often invisible to consumers.

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, she explains that 70% of Australia’s seafood consumption comes from imports, mostly from Thailand and other parts of Asia. Workers are often at sea for years at a time, trapped in debt bondage, and under threat of violence. Incredibly, “by the time this catch finds its way onto the shelf of an Australian store or your barbecue hotplate, every trace of this abuse has been scrubbed clean.”

So why does it still happen?

Firstly, because seafood supply chains are particularly complex, and difficult to untangle. The source of seafood is often poorly documented given the prevalence of transhipping at sea (where boats exchange cargo without docking at an official port), seafood re-exportation and numerous stages of processing.

On top of that, another reason you could easily end up eating slavery-related seafood on Christmas Day is that we don’t have laws or systems that track slavery.

You can tell from a tin can label if your food has GMO ingredients or is dolphin-friendly, however there is no way to know whether slave labour has been used to make the products we buy and consume. Essentially, our laws and regulations do not require transparency from Australian businesses who purchase products from abroad.

In light of this, Australia is finally considering passing legislation akin to the UK Modern Slavery Act, which would create an independent commissioner to keep an eye on Australian businesses operating abroad. Furthermore, it would tackle scams associated with orphanage tourism and require the government to report on its own supply chains.

While companies can take their own measures to address modern slavery, Forrest says that we need a “government-level solution to have any chance of systemically unravelling all of this” and that “consumer voices in support can ensure it remains prioritised.”

Subscribe

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

U.N. rights chief urges end to E.U.'s support for Libyan Coast Guard

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has called for an urgent review of the European Union's agreement with Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking at the Human Rights Council, Türk highlighted the alarming scale of “trafficking, torture, forced labor, extortion, and starvation” endured by returned migrants and asylum seekers. “It is unconscionable that people in

| Tuesday July 9, 2024

Read more