One Million Footprints on the Path to Freedom

Posted by Luis CdeBaca
November 23, 2011
Slavery Footprint Webpage

Two months ago, the Fairtrade Fund launched Slavery Footprint, a web- and mobile-based application that allows users to understand how their lives intersect with modern slavery. Through a grant from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, the Fairtrade Fund developed this tool to help more people understand the way their lifestyles and consumption habits fuel the demand for forced labor and sex trafficking.

The app works by asking users to complete a quick survey about where they live and what they buy and eat. That information is processed in an algorithm that analyzes the 400 most common consumer items and determines the likelihood that those items were tainted by modern slavery somewhere along the supply chain.

The goal announced at the time of the launch was to register 150,000 people having taken the survey by September 22, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Twelve months to get 150,000 people engaged. What's been revealed instead in the last two months is that people care about this issue, and aren't going to wait on our timetable to join the modern abolitionist movement. On November 11 , only six weeks after the site launched, the millionth Slavery Footprint survey was completed. And it's not just Americans -- people from a hundred different countries have taken the quiz.

As I travel around the world, it's becoming clear that the fight against modern slavery has moved beyond an annual report to become a vibrant global movement. More and more governments are taking steps to fight modern slavery, from the Persian Gulf to the Bay of Bengal . Law enforcement and NGOs are coming together in places as diverse as Moscow and Memphis, and the press and the public are recognizing this crime and the heroism of the survivors both on the local and global levels.

Most telling of the direction this movement is taking is that one million people in over 100 countries have taken the time to assess their own impact. For these million people, it wasn't enough to simply say "I'm not a trafficker" or "I don't buy sex or have a maid locked up in my house." By taking the survey, they have learned that human trafficking doesn't just affect people in faraway parts of the world. We touch this crime in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the technology upon which we rely -- and we can do something about it. Slavery Footprint and its partners like MTV have made it possible to take action by letting companies and universities know that you care about modern slavery and that you hope they do as well.

The road to freedom is long and hard, but there are now millions of footprints on that path. I encourage you to visit, take the survey yourself, and join us as we seek to deliver on the promise of Emancipation.



November 23, 2011

W.W. writes:

The greatest among you will be your servant

United States
November 27, 2011

Samantha in the U.S.A. writes:

I am very glad to see such a device coming to fruition. Modern slavery is a serious and widespread issue impacting several aspects of the global economy. However, most people only think of sex slavery when they think of modern slavery, and thus do not generally consider how their actions are contributing to the modern slave trade. This tool will allow consumers to understand how their habits impact modern slavery and will give them advocacy in the fight against it by allowing them to make more informed choices in the market place. Widespread and effective use of such a tool could provide a means to economically "starve" the modern slave trade by reducing demand for goods and services produced through slavery with more informed consumer decision making.


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