New website reveals extent of slavery in everyday goods

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18 October 2010

From Christmas decorations in China, T-shirts in India and tobacco in Malawi, the shocking range of everyday items produced through slavery can be seen for the first time on a new interactive website from Anti-Slavery International:

Launched for the UK’s inaugural Anti-Slavery Day (Monday 18 October 2010), Anti-Slavery International’s Products of Slavery website, is a data visualisation website that shows details of the 122 products made using forced and child labour in 58 countries across the world, from Argentina to Uzbekistan.

Across the world, at least 12.3 million people remain in slavery and many of these are forced to work in industries making products sold in both local and international markets.
Sectors blighted by slavery include the food industry, where forced labour is used to harvest sugar in Brazil and cocoa beans in Ivory Coast, as well as to farm prawns in Thailand and cattle in Bolivia. Raw materials extracted through forced labour include coal in Pakistan, gold in Peru and coltan from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is used to make electronic goods including mobile phones.

Joanna Ewart-James, Anti-Slavery International’s Supply Chain Co-ordinator, said: “Unfortunately, 200 years after the end of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, slavery remains a reality across the world. Of course nobody wants to inadvertently buy products of slavery, and we hope this website helps raise awareness of the extent of the problem and spurs people on to become modern day abolitionists who take action to call on companies to ensure that slavery has not been used to produce any of their goods.”

The country with the widest range of goods produced through forced labour is Burma, where slavery is used in the production of precious jewels, rice, rubber, prawns and soy beans.

India has the widest range of goods produced by child labour, with many products including bricks, carpets and textiles doubly tarnished by evidence of forced labour. India has never signed up to major international conventions banning under age work or the worst forms of child labour.

The most common products made with forced and child labour are cotton, coffee, cocoa, rice, sugar cane and tobacco in agriculture, bricks, carpets and garments in manufacturing and coal and gold in mining.

For further media information, including screen shots of the Products of Slavery website contact: Paul Donohoe, Anti-Slavery International Press Officer, on +44 (0)20 7501 8934

Notes for Editors

1.    The primary source of data for the Products of Slavery website comes from the United States Department of Labor report, ‘Goods produced by child labor and forced labor’ (2009). The report as well the source data can be downloaded from the “Data and Sources” page of Products of Slavery website.

2.    Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights organisation and campaigns for the eradication of slavery, exposing current cases, supporting local organisations to release the minimum 12.3 million people in slavery, and the implementation of international laws against slavery.

3.    The Products of Slavery data visualisation website was created by Tactical Studios, a project of Tactical Technology Collective, in association with MediaShala. Tactical Technology Collective is an international NGO that helps rights advocates worldwide turn information into action.