[Warning, mature subject matter. The featured photo is from CreoFire.]
Slavery is not an issue of the past. It’s all over the world — yes, even in the United States of America. Young boys are forced to be soldiers. Young girls are made into sex slaves. Children are kidnapped from their homes and sold to international buyers. Men are forced to work in unsafe mines. Women are made to do backbreaking work with no pay. The list goes on and on.
If you don’t believe me, check out Lisa Kristine‘s work. She is a humanitarian photographer that began to document modern slavery. She spoke at TEDxMaui about the issue and has inspired people like Vivienne to start Make a Stand Lemonade and Patrick Moreau and Grant Peelle to direct the documentary #standwithme.
Sometimes, we unwittingly add to the demand for slaves. Do you think you are exempt from this? Chocolate, electronics, coffee, and pornography are just a few of the industries where slaves are commonly used. Compassionate groups such as Fair Trade USA, Gracehaven, Price of Life, Invisible Children, and International Justice Mission work to actively combat these issues and bring awareness to how we as consumers contribute to the demand. You can also take a survey to get a general idea of your impact.
So when you go to buy your Halloween candy, think about its origins. Chances are, if it doesn’t have a Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance symbol on it, those cocoa beans were most likely collected by slaves or from cheated and underpaid farmers. You can vote with your dollar — and find alternatives if you can’t afford the fair price.
Think about the kids you pass that Halloween chocolate out to. They are the same age as the ones that were enslaved to collect the cocoa beans to make it.