Field report: Call for a slavery-free Valentine’s Day


Freedom United activists to ask their favourite stores to ensure their products are free of modern slavery.


In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, many stores remind us it’s time to shop for gifts for the people we love. In 2014, Freedom United took a stand by exposing how many of these traditional tokens of love may have been made with modern slavery:

  • Chocolate may be tainted with child labor in the cocoa fields of West Africa;
  • Flowers like roses, tulips and orchids can come from fields where children and women work up to 20 hours a day for little or no pay;
  • Gold may be mined by men, women and children in the most dangerous of conditions – and, in the case of conflict mines in the DRC, often at gunpoint;
  • Gemstones like diamonds and rubies are often mined by slaves and can also end up polished and cut by children who sustain horrific injuries from working with gem-cutting tools and machinery;4
  • Even the most innocent-looking plush toy may be produced in factories employing slave labour using cotton that may have been harvested by people forced to work as slaves.

According to estimates, in 2014 consumers were set to spend $19 billion in Valentine’s Day shopping – it’s shocking to think that any of that money might have gone towards an industry that deprives people of their dignity and freedom.


1,705 activists took up our challenge to write to their favourite stores demanding a full audit for slavery-free goods. This was an initial campaign on slavery-free goods in the US which then in 2015 engaged tens of thousands of advocates in the US, increasing supply chain transparency with the introduction of this bill to the Senate, marking an important step toward higher awareness.