December 12, 2018
Today, KnowTheChain released its final benchmark of 2018, covering the apparel and footwear sector, which remains at high risk of forced labor despite decades of stakeholder and public scrutiny. The benchmark finds that 28 of 43 companies score below 50/100 in addressing the risk of forced labor in supply chains, and 10 companies score below 10/100.
This benchmark is KnowTheChain’s second for the apparel and footwear industry. The Human Thread finds this assessment very helpful in evaluating the supply chain in apparel and footwear. We wrote about the 2016 assessment here. While some companies have improved their scores since the first benchmark in 2016, the industry overall needs to do much more in order to protect vulnerable workers at all levels of supply chains.
“Workers in the apparel and footwear sector are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, with women and migrant workers making up the majority of the labor force,” said Kilian Moote,project director for KnowTheChain. “Companies and their investors have a responsibility to ensure workers are treated fairly and humanely.”
Notably, Adidas sits atop the benchmark with a score of 92 out of 100 possible points, the highest seen yet in any of KnowTheChain’s benchmark reports, and the company remains in the top spot from 2016. Lululemon (89/100) secured second place overtaking Gap Inc. (75/100) since 2016.
The lowest scoring companies include several consumer-facing companies, such as Prada (5/100), Skechers (7/100) and Foot Locker (12/100). Other low-scoring companies are large apparel suppliers, including Eclat Textile (1/100) and Pou Chen Corporation (6/100) but they have the same responsibility to their workers, and are held to the same standard.
“Nobody should have to pay to have a job, yet responsible recruitment efforts remains the least developed area of work for the industry,” said Moote. “More than half the companies we looked at had no policy to stop employers from keeping workers’ passports, and only four could show that they had reimbursed workers for recruitment fees.”
The report provides good practice examples and recommendations for companies. In addition, it evaluates corporate commitments and compliance with relevant regulations such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and provides considerations for investor action.
The KnowTheChain Investor Statement is supported by over 100 investors with over USD 3.5 trillion assets under management, including Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment (The Human Thread is a a project of SGI) and numerous of its members.
Read the full 2018 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark Report.
July 07, 2018
Flor Molina, a survivor of modern slavery in Los Angeles who has become a champion for trafficking victims and survivor protection, has been announced as the recipient of the 2018 Fashion for Freedom Award from Free the Slaves. Her inspiring journey from sweatshop slavery to human rights activist and U.S. State Department adviser embodies exceptional dedication and impact.
The Fashion for Freedom Award was created by Free the Slaves to honor changemakers working in ethical fashion and slavery eradication. The honor recognizes one person advancing those fields through creative and effective methods. Through her activism and advocacy, Molina embodies the purpose of the award.
Molina speaks for those affected by the atrocity of sweatshop slavery in the garment industry. Trafficked herself from Mexico to the U.S. in 2001, she was forced to work in a garment factory in Los Angeles. After Molina’s child died in Mexico because she could not afford medical expenses, she was “an easy target” for her trafficker, she says.
Forced to work 18 hour days for more than a month, Molina convinced her trafficker to allow her leave the factory to attend church. She never went back. The FBI began an investigation and connected Molina with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a nonprofit that provides comprehensive, life-changing services to survivors and advocates for groundbreaking policies and legislation.
Since her escape, Molina’s amazing work advocating for others highlights those who have been affected by labor trafficking. “The media covers a lot about sex slavery but doesn’t talk about the labor side. I’m eager to raise awareness about labor trafficking because I am a labor trafficking survivor,” Molina says.
In 2012, alongside a number of anti-slavery organizations, Molina advocated for creation of the California Supply Chain Transparency Act. Under the law, manufacturers and retailers must disclose efforts they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free. She recalled that most businesses were wary about supporting the concept until hearing her personal story. This underscores the vital importance of survivor leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.
In 2015, Molina was appointed by President Barack Obama to America’s first-ever U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. During her two-year term, Molina provided detailed recommendations to the president and federal agencies to strengthen U.S. policy and programs to combat human trafficking at home and abroad.
“As a survivor, advocate, activist, expert – and so much more – Flor has been a champion for the conscious consumerism movement for many years now,” Free the Slaves Fashion for Freedom coordinator Allie Gardner said. “She’s an inspiration and a true leader, and those of us fighting for a more ethical fashion industry can learn a lot from her.”
Free the Slaves will formally present the Fashion for Freedom award to Molina July 28 at the Fashion for Freedom Event in New York, where she will have the opportunity to address the event’s guests and visiting journalists. When asked what she plans to tell them, Molina said: “I want everyone to know that human trafficking exists in all industries, including the garment industry. We, as consumers, can and should be part of the solution.”
Molina’s story is recounted in a number of media outlets:
Free the Slaves will formally present the Fashion for Freedom award to Molina July 28 at the Fashion for Freedom Event in New York, where she will have the opportunity to address the event’s guests and visiting journalists.
Learn more: www.ftsfashionforfreedom.com
(Much of the above content was drawn from Free the Slaves’ press release.)
July 07, 2018
Last week, the U.S. Department of State released its Trafficking in Persons Report for 2018. The full, 486-page report can be found here. The annual report contains assessments on global progress fighting human trafficking. First published in 2011, the report offers one of the more systematic global views of trafficking in persons as well as the charting of progress from year to year.
In the report, countries are evaluated into three tiers. Tier 1 consists of “countries whose governments fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.” Below Tier 1, Tier 2 contains countries that may not meet the TPVA standards, “but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.” A “Tier 2 Watch List” consists of countries that are similar to Tier 2, but have other issues, such as an increasing number of trafficking cases or a lack of improvement on previously-implemented anti-trafficking efforts. Tier 3 countries are those “whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”
We know that the garment industry, from the cotton field to the factory, is one of the top industries plagued by human trafficking. The Atlantic even declared “All your clothes are made with exploited labor.”
The cotton campaign has developed statements for both Uzbekistan which was upgraded to tier 2 http://www.cottoncampaign.org/us-decision-fails-forced-labor-victims-in-uzbekistan.htmland Turkmenistan which remains at tier 3 http://www.cottoncampaign.org/turkmenistan-remains-in-the-lowest-possible-ranking-in-the-annual-tip-report.html. Catholic News Agency covered the report here, noting that trafficking remains a problem in the U.S.
September 09, 2017
Currently, Pope Francis is visiting Colombia. One of his stops will be Cartagena and the shrine of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest, on the day after his feast day. In fact, his final public event in Colombia is a Mass in the evening at the seafront in Cartagena, during which the remains of St. Peter Claver and St. Maria Bernarda Bütler, a Swiss Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who also worked there, will be exposed.
Peter Claver was born to a prosperous family in Verdu, Spain, and earned his first degree in Barcelona. He entered the Jesuits in 1601. When he was in Majorca studying philosophy, Claver was encouraged by Alphonsus Rodriguez, the saintly doorkeeper of the college, to go to the missions in America. Claver listened, and in 1610 he landed in Cartagena, Colombia. After completing his studies in Bogotá, Peter was ordained in Cartagena in 1616.
Cartagena was one of two ports where slaves from Africa arrived to be sold in South America. Between the years 1616 and 1650, Peter Claver worked daily to minister to the needs of the 10,000 slaves who arrived each year.
As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves. Claver said, “We must speak to them with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.”
In the last years of his life Peter was too ill to leave his room. The ex-slave who was hired to care for him treated him cruelly, not feeding him many days, and never bathing him. Claver never complained. He was convinced that he deserved this treatment.
In 1654 Peter was anointed with the oil of the Sacrament of the Sick. When Cartagenians heard the news, they crowded into his room to see him for the last time. They treated Peter Claver’s room as a shrine, and stripped it of everything but his bedclothes for mementos. At the age of 73, Claver died September 7, 1654.
St. Peter Claver was canonized in 1888. His memorial is celebrated on September 9.
When we look upon today’s slaves as anything else than fellow human beings and gifts of God, we view them as commodities to be bought and sold. We deprive them of their dignity. These are the poor and vulnerable who are forced, coerced, or by economic choice enter into a very dark underworld that enmeshes at least 21 million people on our planet today.
Like Saint Peter Claver, let us see the “Christ” within each and every person, especially those who are the world’s modern slaves, like many who make our clothes. Indeed, St. Peter Claver, a patron saint for victims of human trafficking, is a saint for garment justice.
O God, who made Saint Peter Claver a slave of slaves and strengthened him with wonder charity and patience as he came to their help, grant, through his intercession, that, seeking the things of Jesus Christ, we may love our neighbor in deeds and in truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.