The nation’s largest provider of comprehensive services to survivors, and an advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. For two decades, CAST has supported thousands of survivors on their journey to freedom, from counseling and mentorship, to legal resources and housing, to education and leadership training.
Nearly every culture and nation throughout recorded history has been corroded by the institution of slavery. It is institutional, because in order to persist, it must be supported in some way by those in power, despite proclamations to the contrary. To persist as an acceptable and visible input in global economic trade and profit, it must be condoned by too many information gatekeepers, businesses and consumers alike.
Many of the physical routes taken to slavery, are well known and documented. Yet, slavery has only grown and prospered. And it is now intertwined with three other global human crisis: refugee, immigration, and poverty.
Today, there are 40 MM slaves in the world: more than at any other time in human history
In 1850 a slave cost the equivalent of $40,000. Today, $90. (Kevin Bales, anti-slavery author and activist)
As Kevin Bales explains, the explosion in the number of modern-day slaves has eroded the economic ties that maintain their individual worth as slaves – and now, most are considered “Disposable People.”
Modern day slavery includes the denial of a person’s freedom for self-determination over their bodies, their choice for work, and the conditions under which they live. It includes the crimes of human (child and adult) trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor (sex, Ag, domestic work, military, prisons), forced marriage, sale and exploitation, and servitude.
Human trafficking is believed to be the third largest criminal activity in the world. As reports cited below show, some of the world's richest corporations or citizens are connected to slave trade – without any accountability. The International Labor Organization estimates slavery generates $150 B per year in profits worldwide.
Is slavery inevitable?
How conditions in the US inform the path to acceptance
The driving force of slavery today is societal tolerance of an economic system which plunges towards lower prices while ignoring human and environmental effects of this “race-to-the-bottom,” and the corruption of patronage politics which deflects attention away. Despite the relentless fixation on lower prices, a conscientious consumer, who considers the externalities, can make a difference in combating slavery …
As the above haunting quote from Doug Schifter shows, in the US in 2018, modern day slavery takes many forms. Including:
minimum wage rates stuck at poverty wage levels for decades, attacks on unions/ collective bargaining/ retirement benefits, public education, public assistance
Even in the US, nearly 1:5 live in/near poverty, and a stunning 40% of Americans don’t have $400 available to cover emergency expenses.
Working families living in poverty require bottom of barrel prices of goods and services to survive... which leads to greater slavery in a deliberately obscured global corporate supply chain. We have, until now, long accepted poverty wages here in the US as some form of collateral damage from a global economy.
The Occupy movement fueled grassroots worker-led Fight for $15 campaigns across the country. Growing movements are also underway for gig economy, Ag, domestic, and tipped workers. And nonprofits, new tech social enterprises, and local governments are uniting around efforts to combat human trafficking.
These movements need our support. And We, as consumers, can make a difference with every purchase — affecting one life at a time.
The Power of the Consumer: some industries associated w Slavery
A major report released in 2015, funded by the United States Department of Labor, reported a 51% increase in the number of child workers (1.4 million) in the cocoa industry in 2013-14, compared to 2008-09. Those living in "slave-like conditions" increased 10 percent in the same time period (to 1.1 million)."
The Atlantic, "In the Strawberry Fields", 11/'95
The Price of Sugar documentary
Southern Poverty Law Center: “Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States”
Sugar, palm oil (processed/ packaged foods), dairy, cotton, farmworkers worldwide. As industrial Ag industry rapidly moves to mechanical harvesting, US government no longer needs to encourage cheap labor to flood across the border.
LA Times, 4 -part series, “Hardship on Mexico's farms, a bounty for U.S. Tables” 12'14
Bloomberg businessweek: “Indonesia's Palm Oil Industry Rife With Human-Rights Abuses" 7/'13
Verite, Re: Palm Oil
Not only is overfishing causing a crisis, the use of slaves is well known.
Associated Press, “Seafood from Slaves”, series, 2016
Sold to the Sea, documentary, '14
Guardian UK, “Revealed: Asian slave labour producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK" 6/'14
Guardian, UK: “UK police rescue nine suspected victims of slavery from British trawlers " 12/'17
Environmental Justice Foundation, Human Trafficking in Thailand's fishing industry, report, '15
Solidarity Center: True Cost of Shrimp report
Textiles, Carpets, Shoe Manufacturing
100 years ago, one of the deadliest industrial fires in the US, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, resulted in changes to labor laws. Nearly 20 years ago, celebrity Kathie Lee Gifford's apparel company, was accused of abusive conditions in her garment factories. And 5 years ago, a devastating fire killed more than 1,100 garment workers at Rana Plaza. What's changed? Fashion – at what price?
Slate: “We Are Nothing but Machines to Them” 12/'16
“Bangladesh Accord Gets a Lifeline While Workers Organize Wildcat Strikes” LaborNotes 8/’19
NYTimes Editorial, “Bangladesh’s Crackdown on Labor” 2/'17 crackdown on labor activists
UDITA (Arise) 2015 documentary about Bangladesh women garment workers
Mining/ Minerals/ Tech products
Guardian UK, “Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices”, 8/’19
Amnesty International: “Is my phone powered by child labour?”
Complicit documentary, 2014
Guardian UK: “Beauty companies and the struggle to source child labour-free mica” 7/'16
Guardian UK: “Tarnished gold: why Peru's forced labor mining matters to the US” 10/'13
PBS Newshour: “One Million Children Labor in Africa’s Goldmines” 7/'13
Washington Post: “The hidden costs of cobalt mining” 2/'18
Human Trafficking/ Sex trade
SF Chron, "Bay Area care center owners charged w human trafficking", 9/ '18
Business Insider, “This Is What Modern-Day Sex Slavery In America Looks Like”, 8/'14
The Atlantic, “When Sex Trafficking Goes Unnoticed in America” 2/'16
NYTimes, “Cyntoia Brown is Granted Clemency after 15 years” 1/’19
Thomson Reuters Foundation, “Trapped by Technology”, 6/ ‘18
An est 600-800 K people per yr worldwide, generating an est $30 B in profits. Women and children trafficked heavily in the US, in all 50 states. The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the top 3 primary transport hubs for human trafficking in the country. Children in the foster care system are decidedly more at risk. The needs of victims of trafficking are among the most complex of crime victims, often requiring a multidisciplinary approach to address severe trauma and medical needs, immigration and other legal issues, safety concerns, shelter and other basic daily needs, and financial hardship
NY Times Magazine, “The Girls Next Door”, 1/'04
CNN Freedom project, “Sex trafficking: The new American slavery”, 3/'17
The Nation, “This Labor Trafficking Case Exposes…”, 9/’18
SF Chronicle, “SF report uncovers nearly 500 cases of human trafficking”, 11/'16
Washington Post, "Blowin' Up takes a searing look...", 5/'18
Guardian UK, The Trap Documentary, 2018
NY Times, “Behind Illicit Massage Parlors,” 3/’19
Domestic Workers: home care
NY Times Magazine, “Out of the Shadows” 2/’19
Is among the top forced labor positions from trafficking. Domestic /home care workers often live within their employers’ households, cooking, cleaning, and caretaking for children, the elderly or infirm. Home Care workers are Not protected under federal minimum wage and overtime pay regulations – however several states recently passed state level “Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
CBS News, “Typical child care worker paid less than dog trainer”, 11/'15
National Domestic Workers Alliance report, “Home Economics”, 2017
The Washington Post, “Former U.S. diplomat again found liable for sexually enslaving a housekeeper” 7/'17
Take a Moment:
New York Times Magazine audacious and essential series on slavery in the US: “The 1619 Project”