A third of the world’s population is now in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is a worrying and difficult time, but we are not powerless. Staying at home will save lives. Staying at home will also unlock the time, not often afforded to us in the fast-paced whirl of life, to focus on what is important and interesting to us. We, at The Anti-Slavery Collective, are working from home to fight modern slavery. Here are 6 ways you can join us in the fight:
There are an estimated 40.3 million slaves in the world today. If you did not know this, that is ok. But, as the abolitionist William Wilberforce once said,
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”
At The Anti-Slavery Collective, we are taking this time to learn. Whether you have been interested in modern slavery for a while or you first learnt about modern slavery today, now is the time to broaden your knowledge and build your awareness. There is a wealth of resources on the internet to tap into.
- Check out our Instagram, on which we regularly share facts, stories and resources.
- Read inspirational, thought-provoking stories from leaders in the anti-slavery movement on our website. We have also just published a reading list of our favourite books and articles.
- Head over to our Twitter to find enlightening articles and interesting updates on the issue. The Thomson Reuters Foundation is an invaluable source, frequently shining a light on the issue of modern slavery through expert, investigative journalism – you can sign up to receive their weekly “Human Trafficking” newsletter straight to your inbox.
- Watch videos on our YouTube channel, where we have playlists of documentaries, survivor narratives, speeches and much more.
A common belief is that slavery is a relic of a shameful past, that it disappeared when the slave trade was abolished. Another common belief is that slavery is a remote problem that happens “over there,” that it does not affect us. Regrettably, as you now know, neither of these are correct. There are more slaves today than at any other time in history. There are slaves and the products of slavery in every community.
It is vital that we share our knowledge and educate others. Raising awareness is one of the main missions of The Anti-Slavery Collective. If someone doesn’t know that slavery exists, they will not take steps to fight against it. Even though we are physically distancing ourselves from our friends and family, it is easier than ever to connect and engage with them. Use your social media to join the conversation and raise awareness of modern slavery, sharing what you have discovered and encouraging others to take action.
Support anti-slavery organisations
As global supply chains are disrupted and demand surges for some products and drops for others, those already extremely vulnerable to labour exploitation are even more so. As borders are shut and lockdowns are imposed, victims and survivors are unable to access the help of organisations. We must raise awareness of this. We must not forget that COVID-19 will affect the most vulnerable in our society, including victims and survivors of modern slavery.
You can help by raising awareness and supporting anti-slavery charities at a time when their work is more desperately needed than ever. Charities will be struggling to operate due to a lack of fundraising opportunities, volunteers and attention. Some anti-slavery operations have already been forced to stop. If you can, please donate to the incredible organisations who work on the frontline, who rescue people from modern slavery, and who shelter and support survivors.
Write to your government representative
It is their job to listen to and represent you. Tell them what you know about modern slavery and ask what they and their government are doing to combat modern slavery. There is a high chance that you will know more about modern slavery than them, but your message will bring the issue to their attention. If you are in the UK, the website WriteToThem makes it so easy to find and contact your local and national government representatives.
Sign petitions to show solidarity with, demonstrate support for and affect change in the anti-slavery movement. Freedom United has many on-going campaigns that call on governments and companies to take specific, progressive steps to address modern slavery. They need your voice! Every person, every action counts.
Shop ethically in the supermarket and online
Slavery is everywhere. It is in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the products we use. It is woven into complex supply chains, making it difficult for companies to identify. According to the Ethical Trading Initiative’s 2015 report, 71% of companies believe that there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some stage in their supply chains. Go to Slavery Footprint to find out how many slaves work for you.
We, as consumers, cannot audit the supply chains of everything we buy. However, we have the power to make a change. We can use the power of our purse. We can be conscious consumers. The coronavirus has already changed consumer behaviour, especially in supermarkets – why not start to make ethical choices when shopping?
- Identify the products that are at high-risk of slavery – coffee, chocolate, fish, fast-fashion, palm oil – and make an effort to buy from brands that are fairtrade, source from explicitly slave-free supply chains, invest in the anti-slavery movement, and empower survivors. Wake up to a mug of Manumit Coffee, a non-profit that employs survivors as coffee roasters and invests entirely in fighting modern slavery. Satisfy your sugar cravings with a bar of Tony’s Chocolonely, the chocolate company with the huge mission of making slave-free chocolate the normal.
- Use reliable tools like ResponsibleSourcingTool.org, the Good On You app, and the Fashion Transparency Index to consciously choose to buy from brands that practice transparency and ethical business throughout their supply chains.
- Email businesses to ask what they are doing to ensure that their supply chains are free from forced labour and child labour. Ask them who makes their clothes? Who picks the cotton used in their t-shirts? Who picks their tomatoes? Who fishes their tuna? Are workers throughout their supply chain paid a living wage? Businesses rely on their customers and, therefore, they will pay attention to what is important to you.