Umar Gul, left, and his cousin Muhammad Siraj man a lemonade stand in Peshawar, Pakistan. Muhammad’s father, Maula Khan, is at the far left, in a long beard.(Zulfiqar Ali / For The Times)
The Literacy Guild

Opinion: How to stop slave and child labor

One of the most prominent problems with the world today is slavery, something that should have been abolished decades ago.

It’s sickening to know that according to the publication “Estimating the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in the United States,” over 40 million cases of human trafficking have appeared over the years and the number keeps growing.

The fact is that many people have been impacted, but so many traffickers have never been caught. It amplifies the horrors of this world and perpetuates the idea of people in power taking advantage of the common folk. 

The way to stop this and make the world a better place where everyone can feel safe, where monsters like these don’t have the chance to prey on others, starts on an international level, then a state level and finally an individual level.

A way we can help the cause of abolishing slavery on an international level is to make it more universal that human trafficking is illegal. There are too many countries that have legal human trafficking. Countries like Belarus endorse human trafficking.

In Belarus, according to the US Department of State, the government itself is using high school students to work on farms with no compensation and frames it as community service, to try and use their own citizens as slaves. 

Another example of a country that has human trafficking is Syria. The situation in Syria is extremely complex, but the US Department of State also reports that the conflict has led to an opportunity for human traffickers to prey on people that have no other choice.

The government uses women as prostitutes and young males as suicide bombers and soldiers.  The sad part is that the US benefits from human trafficking in the form of slave labor from other countries. 

The US uses slavery in the production of many of its products in other countries and has done little to stop this. It’s a well-known fact that an industry that heavily relies on slavery is the chocolate industry. Child labor is used primarily in harvesting cocoa beans.

According to the Washington Post, companies like Mars, Nestle and Hershey all have this business practice. It’s a grand hypocritical statement for America to say it’s the land of the free when it’s so clearly one step removed from the very slavery and loss of freedom that we condemn.  

It doesn’t have to be like this; there is some precedence to international pressure successfully influencing a country to change.

According to the New York Times, international pressures have forced Nicaragua to free political prisoners. What this shows above all else is that there are ways to make real change, to make it so slavery is taken down for good.  Another important method to consider is that along with pressuring these countries to change, we should also help these countries, providing what assistance is needed and available. 

On a state level, each individual country needs to better educate the public, have more of a focus on detaining traffickers and put more funding into homeless shelters. We need to better educate the public because it is evident that nowadays many people have no idea that these actions are going on. It is a failure of the public schools and the news that more of these crimes are not brought to light. 

Second, the police need to focus intently on catching those engaged in these horrific acts to both stop them and deter future trafficking. According to Human Trafficking in the United States, many police understand that these acts are happening but are not doing enough. 

Lastly, the state needs to put more into home shelters or helping the homeless in general. The vulnerability of these groups of people makes them easy prey for traffickers. It falls on the state to solve many of these problems, but it’s equally as important for the people to bring the state’s attention to it and push its urgency. 

Finally, it is up to the individual to help stop these injustices from continuing. We as the people need to stop buying from companies that use slave labor, do our own research to help those in need and become more aware of the places that have trafficked people.

By boycotting companies that use slave labor, they will need to eventually stop or lose more money. The problem with companies in today’s world is that they see the use of cheap slave labor as cost-effective even if it’s very immoral. 

If we do our own research, we will in turn become more aware of where we can make a difference in stopping human trafficking. Being knowledgeable of what is happening helps the community as a whole by making it harder for traffickers to prey on more people since a community of individuals that knows about and actively fights trafficking will make it harder for such atrocities to be committed at every turn.

There must be many reforms done in order to stop trafficking that happens around the world. We must make reforms at the international, state and individual level. Change is slow and financially consuming, but it is, in the end, necessary to make the whole world a better place for all.