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*Wardrobe Crisis: How we went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press (Nero, 2016)
Our educational program survey results for 2017
Author Syvannah Wilson - 3rd party interviewer conducting anonymous interviews with Outland Denim seamstresses, while completing her Bachelor of Environmental Management (Honours).
Also known as “modern-day slavery”, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime defines “Trafficking in Persons” as "the recruitment, transport, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."
According to the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, exploitation may comprise:
- a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
- b) The use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
- c) The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
- d) Work, which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children;
- e) Work done by children below the minimum age for admission to employment (UN General Assembly, 2000; ILO et al, 2009).
The International Labor Organisation's report entitled Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour (2014) estimates that forced labour, including human trafficking, generates US$150 billion in illegal profits per year. Of this revenue, the ILO says that two thirds (US$99 billion) comes from commercial sexual exploitation, which includes sex trafficking, forced prostitution and other forced sexually exploitative services.
The UNODC notes that it is very hard to get quantifiable estimates of the number of people involved in human trafficking because of the clandestine nature of the crime, the silencing of its victims and limited data provided by countries.
However, the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage released in September 2017 estimates that at any given time there are an estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage.
Of these, 24.9 million are trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million persons are in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons are in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
The complex nature of the globalised economy means that some of the goods we buy unwittingly keep people in slavery and poverty. Sadly, if there were no demand for cheap labour, cheap goods, and cheap solicited sex, human trafficking wouldn't have a market.
Probably all of us are tarnished with the consumer-culture brush. We don't seem to be able to put a real value on the life of an individual person nor the goods we buy. But change is afoot globally.
- - Women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for 28.7 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total.
- - Women and girls represent 99 per cent of victims of forced labour in the commercial sex industry and 58 per cent in other sectors.
- - 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.
- - Children who were in commercial sexual exploitation represented 21 per cent of total victims in this category of abuse.
- - An estimated 3.8 million adults were victims of forced sexual exploitation and 1.0 million children were victims of sexual exploitation in 2016. More than seven in ten victims were exploited in the Asia and the Pacific region.
- - Vulnerabilities associated with poverty, sudden job loss, natural disasters, armed conflicts, economic crises, and other shocks can play a central role in pushing people into modern slavery. Social protection is therefore critical to mitigating these vulnerabilities. The ILO estimates that, despite some progress, more than 5 billion people do not have access to adequate social protection.
Global estimates of modern slavery: forced labour and forced marriage, International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), September 2017.
Sexual exploitation was noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (53 per cent) followed by forced labour (40 per cent) in UNODC's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2014. The International Labor Organization estimates that 98 per cent of sex trafficking victims are women and girls.
The sex trafficking industry is fuelled by demand, and it's mostly men who are in demand (Iris Yen has covered this issue extensively in the 2008 paper ‘Of Vice and Men: A New Approach to Eradicating Sex Trafficking by Reducing Male Demand through Educational Programs and Abolitionist Legislation').
Impoverished women and girls from developing countries are vulnerable to all forms of human trafficking and exploitation, but they are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking.*
Mexican journalist and author of Slavery Inc. Lydia Cacho has said, “Hundreds of thousands of women and girls are not really choosing anything; they're just surviving through slavery and they just get used to it because that's what life has put on their plate."
* Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara (Columbia University Press, 2009)
People with limited access to protection, education and employment opportunities are more vulnerable to being exploited. For the exploited, often the stigma, shame and post-traumatic stress related issues of their experience are more of a hindrance to their building a prosperous future – some are even the targets of retribution. Additionally, they may lack a solid skill set and/or the means to gain one. So there is a mandate to empower vulnerable communities with income opportunities, and educate and protect victims. We are able to give our sewers quality of life, skills, purpose and dignity.
In its paper, The Rehabilitation of Victims of Trafficking in Group Residential Facilities in Foreign Countries (2007), USAID states,
“Vulnerable before they were trafficked, after the abuse and exploitation, victims are often even more vulnerable. Re-trafficking of victims can be a real danger. The long-term recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of trafficking victims entails meaningful educational and economic opportunities, as well as extended psycho-social care.”.
Furthermore, Article 6 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, notes that in protecting the victims of trafficking in persons signatory states must provide, in appropriate cases, “employment, educational and training opportunities”.
They are also to protect victims of trafficking in persons from revictimization, including instruction to “alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopments and lack of equal opportunity” (Article 9: Prevention of Trafficking in Persons) while discouraging “the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking”.
We commit to continue researching and finding more innovative ways to reduce our effects on the environment, lead the way with positive social impact and improve our supply chain in every way. We have put further information on our Thread, Zip, Denim, Button, Rivet, Washing & Packaging suppliers on the Our Process page.
Organic cotton has proven to use 20-25 per cent less water than conventional cotton, and since competition for natural resources is a significant problem in many of the less developed countries where cotton is grown, Outland Denim is proving environmental and social stewardship through utilisation of organic cotton in our jeans. This stewardship is also shown by Bossa being involved in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) which aims to increase the sustainability of cotton production through reducing the negative environmental and social impacts of cotton.
The use of toxic synthetic indigo poses a major threat to environmental and human health near manufacturing facilities. Outland Denim addresses this issue by using natural indigo dyes derived from a plant species called Indigofera. Use of natural vegetable dyes means that workers are exposed to less toxic chemicals and the likelihood or severity of water pollution is reduced, leading to an overall increase in the sustainability of our jeans. Please see our comprehensive 'Denim Supply Chain Information' here.'For our environmental policy click here
The ILO says, “Young women with relatively low skills comprise a high share of employees in the clothing industry, which is often one of the few accepted forms of contractural labour for women in many developing countries”, while, “Long and unpredictable working hours and safety concerns make it difficult for women to combine family responsibilities with work. Low wages, weak collective bargaining opportunities and lack of equal pay for work of equal value can make women vulnerable to exploitation inside and outside the workplace.”
Outland Denim seeks to mitigate some of these garment industry characteristics to create worker stability within its sewing workshop, employment guidelines and work practises.
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