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Modern-day slavery – 3rdPort

The original article was found on Reuters Thompson, their articles come highly recommended for when expanding and exploring new markets. It is important to obtain a unilateral understanding in order to reduce risk when exploring new markets.

The articles does well to unpack the notions of modern day slavery within our supply chains. This means some of the goods you buy might well have been produced or sourced by someone trapped in slavery, from clothes to phones or food, astonishing it may seem, but still true. Only once unpacking the complexities of the immense supply chains of these corporations, you begin to understand why this is happening.

Every day, men, women and children are forced to work non-stop in life-threatening conditions to make some of the items that we legitimately and innocently buy. Ultimately we want to encourage foreign direct investment, but that line tends to become extremely blurred when the outsourcing of production to the developing world and the demand for a cheap workforce becomes the fertile ground for forced labor, literally turning thousands and thousands of innocent people into commodities – the definition of modern slavery.

A slave is someone forced to work under fraud, coercion or threat of violence for no pay above subsistence. The only “modern” thing about slavery is that it is flourishing: We have more slaves today than ever in history. Slavery has existed for 5,000 years and didn’t end in the 19th century with abolitionist laws. It has evolved to cater to the growing industry of sexual exploitation and the growing demand for fast fashion and cheap goods.

The Stop Slavery Award at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s is a great initiative to put slavery on the business agenda and reward businesses that have excelled in trying to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains.

As much as I would like to touch on the colonial aspects of slavery and the offshoot that we find today or the capitalist interest based economy at the root of poverty, it is imperative to refrain from digressing into anti-globalization sentiments and focus on positive achievements towards change. As it is truly these small steps that inspire others to follow suit.

It takes real courage for a company to admit a risk of slavery in its operations. Companies doing so necessarily open themselves up to media scrutiny. Some of the world’s biggest companies applied for the award, such as Apple, Tesco, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Fighting slavery makes business sense. Slavery flourishes where corruption is widespread, where there is a culture of impunity and corruption, where people are poor and vulnerable, where girls don’t go to school, where kids don’t have a future, and where those exploited do not know their rights and do not know how to defend themselves. No one wins in a society riddled with slavery.



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