To tackle modern slavery and exploitation effectively, radical and systemic changes are needed. Yes, governments and the private sectors are responsible for combatting modern slavery – but we as global citizens can play a role too. Here are five steps you can take:
- Educate yourself and raise awareness. Familiarise yourself with the foundational knowledge of how exploitation still exists today, the different forms, its prevalence and how to spot the signs. If you want to learn more, read about the intersections with other global issues that you are interested in. Initiate dialogues with your friends, family members and colleagues about how exploitation is embedded in the socio-economic 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.
- Write to your government ministers. Government policy is instrumental in the fight against modern slavery. Establishing policies that ensures companies are being held accountable, that separate illegal immigration from human trafficking, impose import controls of goods produced using forced labour, require mandatory human rights due diligence, protect survivors and tackle the root causes that enable exploitation in the first place (poverty, gender inequality, climate change etc.) are extremely important.
- Write to your local governments representatives. Urge 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.
- Support anti-slavery organisations. If you can, donate to organisations that are working to end modern 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 interacting 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.
- Consume consciously. Many of the products we use every day are likely to have been produced using forms of modern slavery. With brands constantly looking for cheaper sources of labour, exploitative practices are often the solution to increasing profit margins. If you can buy ethical clothing, that is great. However, buying second hand, locally produced / 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.