January 2021 is the 10th anniversary of Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This movement culminated primarily on January 11, which is National Trafficking Awareness Day. This day + month are aside to bring awareness to this modern form of slavery.
So what is Human Trafficking?
“A serious crime and a grave violation of human rights” (UNODC).
Even though we live in the modern world, slavery masks itself with the rampant exploitation of human beings worldwide. Three core elements make up trafficking, according to the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime:
- The action of trafficking which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons.
- The means of trafficking which includes a threat of or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power, or position of vulnerability.
- The purpose of trafficking which is always exploitation. In the words of the Trafficking Protocol, article 3, "exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
Men, women, and children fall victim to traffickers on a day-to-day basis. And while humans trafficked can be of any age or gender: women are the most commonly targeted. Even more alarming, the number has risen for both domestic and international cases.
Unsurprisingly, poverty is the #1 factor contributing to human trafficking.
Fair Trade as a Tool
Human trafficking is a symptom of an unjust society and an unequal world.
To fight human trafficking, women worldwide have started cooperatives that provide fair employment for women who might otherwise be trafficked or for women to use as a tool to escape trafficking. These cooperatives pay fair wages and provide resources to women, their families, and their communities. By doing this, women are fighting against human trafficking.
Here at Fair Anita, we believe it is essential to talk about how each woman who works at a fair trade cooperative does so as a choice. We do not believe that fair trade is about saving people from human trafficking. Instead, fair trade is a partnership between women worldwide that sets a standard for the fundamental human rights each person on this planet deserves.
At its core, fair trade isn’t that special; it simply values the “humanity” of each individual on the planet. It is a tool to provide the necessary resources and opportunities for workers to live a respectable and dignified life, just as every human deserves.
To summarize, we see fair trade as a path to:
- provide an adequate source of income, not just to address basic needs but also to give access to better life opportunities
- assists in building capacity and increasing knowledge
- an effective means for highlighting social inequality and promoting significant change.
With these in mind, fair trade becomes a tool for fighting against human trafficking. But really, we think it is just how we should all do business. As more companies utilize fair trade principles, we hope there will be a world where human trafficking does not exist, and all human lives are equally valued.
Fair Trade is a chance for a better tomorrow. A future where we value all life from a place of equality and self-realization.