March 14th is #MyFreedomDay, a daylong event organised internationally by students to raise awareness about modern day slavery and the need to abolish it completely. As part of the fashion industry, we at ILNI abhor this horrific practice that has been allowed to exist, hidden from sight, in many textile businesses. Therefore, we stand firmly together with #MyFreedomDay and other organisations against all practices of modern slavery.
What is Modern Day Slavery?
Sadly slavery was not completely abolished in the 19th century. It has instead continued to impact the lives of millions of victims; children working in sweatshops, women forced into prostitution, men enslaved to work in construction and agriculture, all part of exploitation that takes away their freedom of choice. These are the modern slaves, and #MyFreedomDay is the day to shed more light on this horrific practice.
According to the Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 40.3 million people caught in modern slavery around the world, including more than 10 million children. These modern slaves are forced to work through coercion or threats, they are considered to be owned by their ‘employer’, are dehumanized, treated as commodities, and bought and sold like property. These women, men and children are not free to leave their situation.
How does this still happen?
Most often slavery occurs when people are vulnerable to being taken advantage of. In India, many slaves are in debt bondage trying to pay off the money they have borrowed for medical treatment or food. Young girls are often sold into early marriage to help a family financially. Many women and children work in forced labour in textile mills under appalling conditions. Further compounding the problem is the belief that children born to slaves are also considered in bondage and the property of the slave owner from birth.
Unfortunately, slavery does not only exist in poorer countries, the UK government estimates there are more than 10,000 modern slaves in Britain, while in the United States this figure is almost 400,000.
What can we do to help?
There are many ways we can work together to face this problem in our world. #MyFreedomDay is about raising awareness. Here are some other ways you can help.
Find out more about the scourge of Modern Slavery and what organisations around the world are doing to help halt it. We found these websites to be full of excellent information:
According to a report by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), many of the items we buy every day are made by modern slave labour. Many of the clothes being sold in well-known fast fashion shops come from textile mills where young women and children were lured to work with promises of good wages. Instead, they find themselves trapped in modern slavery and child labour. With no payment for their work, no contracts and no one to complain to, these victims of modern slavery stay entrapped. By becoming more informed about the items we buy, and actively choosing to avoid products made by the hands of slaves we can make our consumer voices louder and encourage companies to be more aware of where they are sourcing their products from. Here are the most useful websites and apps that can help us make informed choices as consumers:
Many great organisations are working tirelessly towards a world where slavery is abolished. Find one that you can support and get involved with helping them make a difference. Anti-Slavery Organisations active internationally:
Students wanting to raise awareness about modern slavery started #MyFreedomDay. We can follow their lead by adding our voices to the movement through sharing information about modern slavery on social media and by telling others about this problem. Change begins with knowledge, which raises awareness and, most importantly, calls for closer scrutiny of companies and individuals engaging in this practice. This terrible practice of slavery should have ended centuries ago, and if we don’t speak out against modern slavery, who will?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”Dr. Martin Luther King Junior,