To tackle modern slavery and exploitation effectively, radical and systemic changes are needed. Currently, anti-modern slavery rhetoric is being used by politicians to justify and legitimise harmful and potentially dangerous policies. Exploitation is not new or anomalous, it has been in existence for centuries, embedded in the socio-economic fabric of our societies itself. Thus, to tackle this issue effectively, there needs to be the implementation of government policy, companies should be held to account, the root causes enabling exploitation in the first place (poverty, gender inequality, lack of access to safe immigration routes, climate change etc.) must be addressed and a cultural/economic shift is needed to ensure people are put before profits. For far too long, we have allowed exploitation and exploitative practices to become normalised.
Having said this, we as global citizens can play a part in facilitating legislative and cultural changes. Each of us can help to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking and here’s how:
1. Educate yourself and spread the word. Familiarise yourself with the foundational knowledge of how exploitation still exists today, the different forms, its prevalence, how to spot the signs and then spread the word. Initiate dialogues with your friends, family members and colleagues about how exploitation is embedded in the socio-economic (and political) fabrics of our systems and that we are encountering it every day in the products we use. Start by having these conversations and encouraging people to transform that awareness into tangible action.
2. Stay safe online. During this global pandemic, people are moving online and subsequently, traffickers are using the digital world to exploit people, especially young people. Stay safe online by only talking to people you know, staying safe on dating apps and familiarizing yourself with how to spot the signs of cyber trafficking, sexual exploitation and grooming. Additionally, for young people and parents, have conversations with your friends and family about what you’re doing online and who you are talking to online – this helps to keep yourself and others safe!
3. Write to your national and local politicians. Government policy is instrumental in the fight against slavery. Establishing policies on an international level to ensure that companies are being held accountable, that separate illegal immigration from human trafficking and that tackle the root causes that enable exploitation in the first place (poverty, gender inequality, climate change etc.) are extremely important.
On a local level, you can write to your local government to get them to adopt a local strategy that helps to tackle slavery through raising awareness in communities, training emergency services on how to spot the signs and respond and establishing robust, effective and safe support for survivors who will often have faced severe trauma.
4. Support anti-slavery organisations. If you can, donate to organisations that are working to end slavery, grassroots organisations rely on donations to keep safe-houses and support programmes running across the world. You can even start a fundraiser or sponsored event! Another way you can support organisations is by saving, sharing, commenting and engaging with their content on social media – this will help to boost their engagement and will allow their messages and calls to action to be spread even wider. Click here for a list of some of the most incredible anti-slavery organisations that we support.
5. Consume consciously. Most of the products we use every day are likely to have been produced using slavery. With brands constantly looking for cheaper sources of labour, slavery is often the solution to increasing profit margins. So, if you can buy ethical clothing, that is great. However, buying second hand, locally sourced goods, thrifting, organising clothes swaps, sharing and reducing the rate at which you buy can help slow the demand. Whenever you are about to buy something new, always ask yourself, ‘Do I really need this?’ and ‘Who made this?’. If a brand cannot tell you the answers to these questions, write to them, call them out on social media and put pressure on them to change!
There are several ways in which we can all come together and tackle modern slavery – these small acts and simple lifestyle changes can assist in making a difference.