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The International Organization for Migration is urging consumers not to buy products made by migrants exploited for their cheap labor. The IOM is launching a global campaign to end human trafficking. It begins in Europe where large numbers of people are trafficked, but eventually will expand to other regions of the world.
This video challenges consumers to think about their purchasing habits and how they might be encouraging the exploitation of migrants.
Richard Danziger is head of the Global Counter Trafficking Program at the International Organization for Migration. He says poverty, gender inequality, and conflict contribute to human trafficking, but it is the demand for unreasonably cheap labor and cheap goods that drive this unscrupulous trade.
He says the campaign aims to change consumer behavior through the use of soft power, not hard power.
"We are not asking people to boycott a particular brand or boycott a particular super market or chain store," Danziger said. "We are simply asking people to find out what lies behind the products they buy. We are asking people to buy responsibly."
The International Labor Organization estimates 12.3 million people are in forced or bonded labor and sexual servitude around the world.
Danziger says stories about human trafficking usually focus on women and girls used for sexual exploitation. But he says both men and women are trafficked for labor exploitation.
He says there have been large increases in the last five years in the trafficking of men and boys to work in the agricultural, construction, fishing and domestic service sector.
"We estimate, based on some ILO [International Labor Organization] figures that in industrialized countries there are over 100,000 trafficked migrant workers," Danziger said. "So, severely exploited migrant workers. If they were paid their back wages, the wages they are due, it could come to something like $2.5 billion. So, we are talking about large sums. Throughout the world, there is an estimate by the ILO of what we call stolen wages of almost $20 billion."
Danziger says consumers are increasingly demanding fair trade. They are asking that the products they buy are produced according to ethical standards.
He says the campaign hopes to tap into these sentiments by raising awareness of the many products and services that result from trafficked and exploited labor.
He says consumers have the power to end labor exploitation by buying responsibly and by pressuring businesses and retailers to operate in an ethical manner.