26 September 2011 – From The New York Times – Do you know how many slaves work on your behalf?
While many people may assume the answer to that provocative and unsettling question is zero, the creators of a new Web site want to demonstrate how forced labor, especially overseas, is tantamount to slavery.
A nonprofit group, with funding from the State Department, will unveil the new site, www.slaveryfootprint.org, on Thursday in an effort to show that forced laborers are tied to all kinds of everyday products, from electronics and jewelry to the shirt on your back.
Ideally, they hope to get consumers engaged enough in the issue to do something about it, primarily hoping people demand that companies carefully audit supply chains to ensure, as best as they can determine, that no “slave labor” was used to manufacture its products.
“What we are trying to do is make it so it’s not just someone else’s business, it’s everyone’s business,” said Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. “There’s a horror about it when they figure out what is going on.”
The slavery footprint is a twist on the more commonly known carbon footprint, and the new site tries to point out areas of a consumer’s life where the organization believes slavery is most likely used to manufacture products.
Slavery Footprint defines a slave as “anyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited and is unable to walk away.” The State Department estimates that there are 27 million slaves globally. The Web site steers users through a set of prompts, where they can define where they live, the type of dwelling they live in, how many children they have, how many cars they use, what they eat and what types of things they have bought.
Sprinkled throughout are grim notations about slave labor and human trafficking, like this one: “In China, soccer ball manufacturers work up to 21 hours in a day, for a month straight. Even the toughest American coaches wouldn’t ask that from their squads.”