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Monday, September 14, 2009

Boycott Slave Trade Goods

It's going to be a long, busy day, so not a great deal of blogging today. I did want to point out this article about human-trafficking from that finally gives us an opportunity to make an impact on goods made by the slave trade industry.

There's a long, detailed list that's a little blandly formatted, but it indicates whether goods in a certain country are made with child labor, forced labor, or both.

It's important to keep in mind this doesn't mean all goods from that sector in that country were produced with exploitation. Here are some of the worst offenders for forced labor or slavery specifically:

* Bolivia: nuts, cattle, corn, and sugar

* Burma: bamboo, beans, bricks, jade, nuts, rice rubber, rubies, sesame, shrimp, sugarcane, sunflowers, and teak

* China: artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, garments, footwear, fireworks, nails, and toys

* India: bricks, carpets, cottonseed, textiles, and garments

* Nepal: bricks, carpets, textiles, and stones

* North Korea: bricks, cement, coal, gold, iron, and textiles

* Pakistan: bricks, carpet, coal, cotton, sugar, and wheat

You can read the entire 194 page list at

Those of us who are horrified and angry about this human rights issue can now put that energy to good use to have a direct impact to end the abuse.

Please read the labels of your purchases and take five minutes to talk with the store managers about your boycott.

Today, we as consumers are more powerful to end slavery than ever before.

We can make this happen. "Just say no" to slave-trade goods and let your voices be heard.

Thank you.


Bill said...

Whenever I see headlines like this one, I reserve judgment and try not to have knee-jerk reactions. I read Miss Kloer’s article and it seems to be intentionally vague. In more than one spot it differentiates between forced labor and child labor. There are questions that need to be answered. The report gives a list of goods and then goes on to say that not all of the goods coming from those countries are involved in abuses. So which are the goods OK to buy and which should be boycotted?

The article is titled: “ Department of Labor Releases List of Slave-Made Goods” but the report it references and released by the Department of Labor
reads “The Department of Labor’s list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor. You can see that the actual Dept. of Labor report stays away from the word “slave” which in our culture is a trigger label used to trigger strong emotional responses.

Once I got past the “attention getting headline”, I found the article written by Amanda Kloer for to be lacking in any real detail.. Her own bullet item states “More goods were found to be made with child labor than forced labor”; which is very different from what the headline implies.

On the “child labor” issue, it is only in the late 20th century that any government or organization even took note. When I was a boy, you had to get working papers and you were paid peanuts, but you were still a child, and you were still working. My mother was a single Mom (father dearest took a hike) trying to feed three children and needed all the help she could get. For many families in rural America as well as the rest of the world, the income brought in by children makes the difference between eating and starvation. If we are going to take action to stop child labor, are we prepared to step in and feed millions of families. In China, where birth control was strictly enforced, it became the practice to kill infant females and try again for a male. It wasn’t condoned and not readily admitted to, but it did happen. If we boycott goods produced in China by child labor will deaths like these increase because poor families can’t feed their children.

One of the universal truths defined by Newton’s Third Law, is “that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” You can’t make changes in society without being prepared to deal with the ramifications. In the affluent areas of America we are horrified by the thought of child labor but in poor and third world countries it is a necessary evil and a requirement for survival.

On the issue of “forced labor”, the report doesn’t say exactly what they mean. Even in our own country, as you drive along the highways, you will see men working in prisoner coveralls. Guess what; that is forced labor. Model prisoners are given the opportunity to work outside and jump at the chance. It is a relief from the daily life of incarceration. Americans from the deep south are used to seeing work gangs along the roads and highways. It is so much a part of their life as to become invisible.

Miss Kloer’s article leaves me wanting clarification with facts and not sensational headlines and it leaves me wondering how these families will be helped if we stop buying goods produced under these circumstances. I had a boss who once told me, Don’t bring me a problem unless you have two or three solutions to go along with it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill, Of course the actual DoL report stays away from the word "slave". That doesn't mean that slavery - in all its evil - doesn't exist. Call it what you like: "Forced labor." "Child labor." They are all government sanitized words ("entrenching tool" = shovel) which still add up to modern day slavery.

I like +Gene Robinson's word for homophobia. He calls it 'homosexually challenged.'

Remember: The law to reveal this information was passed in 2005. The government doesn't want us to have this information. You have to read in between the lines.

And, once the boycott begins to have an impact, the labor laws in those countries WILL change. That was the argument used as the reason NOT to boycott the khrona during Apartheid in South Africa. Tutu said, "Yes, it will hurt us in the short run, but it will bring about an end to Apartheid, which will secure our future."