Cost of Comfort: Slavery still exists in today’s world, chocolate trade draws on slaves

Karl Sadkowski/Opinion Editor

Logos brand many of the items we buy and enjoy today.

Found on every article of clothing, every electronic, every last fruit sticker, living in today’s world void of logos borders impossibility.

In part, these logos help define our culture; by simply sporting the Nike swoosh or snapping open a can of Coca Cola, we become the walking advertisements of global corporations seeking to spread their influence to every consumer.

In turn, however, we unknowingly continue to support a trade that died in the United States more than a century ago, though this time in other parts of the world: the slave trade.

Slavery, the trailing topic of many leading news organizations, still rages in countries the world over.

Currently, at least 27 million people work as slaves.

Hundreds of thousands of these slaves are underage.

What’s more, big league corporations indirectly take advantage of their labor for profit, coordinating a lucrative and secretive business with slave owners.

In hope of spreading awareness of the slavery crisis in the world, a new survey created by Slavery Footprint allows consumers to measure their “slavery footprint” via a set of questions concerning individual lifestyle.

Among other things, the survey asks for information on personal house size, diet, toiletries, jewelry and electronic devices.

It uses this information to determine a person’s total slavery footprint, representing the number of forced laborers that are likely involved in creating the products a person buys.

After investigating more than 400 supply chains using slave labor to produce the most popular consumer products, Slavery Footprint calculates the total slavery footprint of a person using information regarding the processes slaves use to produce the survey products, and the countries where they are known to work.

According to Slavery Footprint, a slave is “Anyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited, and is unable to walk away.”

By this definition, it continues to list factors that may trap a person into slavery, such as “high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or cultural acceptance of the practice.”

Women face the greatest suffering in forced labor, as they often fall victim to sexual abuse and violence.

Slavery Footprint is eagerly trying to put the minds of many frivolous buyers to work.

Though only recently created in Sept. 2011, people should take heed to its message: slavery still exists in the world today, and it must attract global attention to meet its end.

Though forced labor may seem insignificant from the comfortable borders of the United States (which abolished slavery in 1895) today, it continues at an unnecessarily rampant pace in less developed countries.

Buyers, consumers, shoppers and customers, remember this: we are the link to the slave trade.

Ask your favorite corporation whose hands built its products.

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