Made by slaves.

Photo by kl-Ga

Have you ever thought about the vast amount of power that lies in your hands? That’s right. You, as a consumer, vote with your spending dollars on what goods stores should keep putting on their shelves and what businesses remain lucrative.

What if you had a list to show you which goods were made either by forced or child labor? Would you make the conscious effort to put your vote elsewhere? According to Amanda Kloer’s post on, the US Department of Labor has finally released a report on goods produced by child labor and forced labor. The definitions are as follows:

“Child labor’’ under international standards means all work performed by a person below the age of 15. It also includes all work performed by a person below the age of 18 in the following practices: (A) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale or trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom, or forced or compulsory labor, 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 purposes; (C) the use, procuring, or offering of a child for illicit activities in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; and (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. The work referred to in subparagraph (D) is determined by the laws, regulations, or competent authority of the country involved.

“Forced labor’’ under international standards means all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily, and includes indentured labor. ‘‘Forced labor’’ includes work provided or obtained by force, fraud, or coercion, including: (1) By threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against any person; (2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or (3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.

It’s great that I can now tell which goods from which countries involve such practices. We can be more aware when making our next purchases. What’s not so great, is the inability to tell which specific companies are the culprits. Throwing a blanket blame on the entire industry of a particular country will hurt organizations that do not use forced or child labor.

Specifics will enable us to make even more accurate choices. Now that’s a report I hope they’re working on releasing soon. In the meantime, we’ll keep in mind the broad idea as we shop.

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