Monday was Anti Slavery Day, but why do we still need one in 2021? According to the campaign group the International Justice Mission, slavery is still common across the world. It comes in many forms, and sadly it still affects women and girls more than men.
Key stats about modern slavery
- 1 in every 130 women and girls globally is living in slavery, and females account for nearly three quarters of all victims of modern slavery - Walk Free: Stacked Odds Report, 2020
- Many forms of slavery are hidden in the products we buy. From the clothes we wear to the everyday items we use in our homes, many of these have been made in factories by people in forced labour - Ethical Trade Initiative, 2016
- Slavery is a billion dollar industry. Human trafficking is the 3rd biggest criminal industry in the world.
- Slavery is still common throughout the world with 40 million people forced to work in brick kilns, brothels, garment factories, private homes and many other contexts around the world - International Labour Organisation, 2014
What can we do?
As consumers there are a number of things we can do to help reduce incidences of slavery in the goods we purchase. Consider:
Price – Is it too good to be true? Then it probably is. If, for example, a t-shirt only costs £10 it's likely that the cotton pickers and garment workers in the supply chain will be the ones losing out. They are frequently subject to abuse and live in appalling conditions.
Quality – The quality of a product is not only an indicator of how long it will last, it can also indicate the likelihood of exploitation in the supply chain. A poorly made product is likely to have been made using the most cheaply sourced materials, and this often includes labour. There are a number of certifications to look out for to decrease the chance of slavery for fashion including the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Fairwear Foundation
Source – Generally goods produced in the Global South are more likely to have significant exploitation in their supply chain due to labour laws (or the lack of them) in that region. However it is not guaranteed that factories in the EU and UK are not exploiting their workers. Last year it came to light that the fast fashion brand Boohoo was using factories in Leicester that were paying workers far below the UK minimum wage. Sadly many of these workers were undocumented, or Asylum Seekers who are unable to work, and are therefore easily exploited by unscrupulous employers.
There are a number of apps and websites that can help identify products that were produced without slavery or child labour, including; Good on You for clothing, Slavery Footprint which calculates how may slaves work for you, and Free2Work which has lots of helpful articles about our everyday choices and slavery.
At 69b Boutique we work to eliminate slavery throughout our supply chain by only working with brands that seek to create a transparent supply chain. You can read our Modern Day Slavery Statement here. We regularly audit our new and existing brands to ensure they are familiar with their own supply chains.
Find out more from: