Modern-day slavery is not just about sex workers or poor people in faraway places.
Some farmworkers in the U.S., for all practical purposes, work as slaves. Laborers with few or no rights, working under inhumane conditions, typically far home, have produced such products as blueberries, organic milk, personal computers or cell phones and garments imported from India, a new report says.
An estimated 12 to 27 million people are victims of slavery, and other forms of forced labor around the world. In the United States alone, 10,000 or more people are being forced to work at any given time.
The report, called Help Wanted: Hiring, Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery in the Global Economy (PDF for download, here), was published by Verite, a non-profit based in Amherst, Mass., that monitors and reports on labor rights abuses around the world. (It was funded by Humanity United, a nonprofit focused on peace and human rights started and chaired by Pam Omidyar.) Over the years, Verite has helped identify and clean up the supply chains of such global brands as Timberland, Gap, Levi Strauss, Apple, Disney and HP. I met with Verite’s executive director, Dan Viederman, last week in Washington to talk about the report, and what can be done to deal with slavery. [click to continue…]