Reflection

Consumerism and Human Trafficking

Many of us think of human trafficking solely as the sex-trade industry, but did you know that it is embedded in our consumer culture? Read to learn more.

Consumerism and Human Trafficking

Many of us think of human trafficking solely as the sex-trade industry, but did you know that it is embedded in our consumer culture? Read to learn more.


Extra wide walmart

When we hear the words “human trafficking,” what do we imagine? For many of us, we probably think about a young girl or women who has been forced into prostitution. This kind of suffering is a horrific reality in our modern world that affects a great number of people. But as journalist Noy Thrupkaew shows in her TED talk, focusing solely on this aspect of human trafficking allows us to ignore how human trafficking is more “prevalent, complex and close to home than most of us realize.” By viewing human trafficking as only forced prostitution, we can ignore how it is “embedded in our every day lives.”
 

Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel another person’s labor. In other words, human trafficking is much wider than just forced prostitution.
 

For example, Thrupkaew shows that forced prostitution accounts for 22 percent of human trafficking, while the majority (68 percent) is for “the purpose of creating the goods and delivering the services that most of us rely on every day, in sectors like agricultural work, domestic work and construction.”
 

In her talk, Thrupkaew discusses Thailand’s fishing industry, the largest exporter of shrimp in the world. Recently, the Thai military were caught selling Burmese and Cambodian migrants onto fishing boats. Amid brutal conditions, these people caught fish to feed shrimp, which were then sold to global retailers. Where did they go? Costco, Tesco, Walmart, and Carrefour. These are some of the largest retailers in the world. And this is just one example of how human trafficking is built into our consumer system.
 

As this example illustrates, human trafficking is not just an “over there” problem where bad men trap young girls into sex slavery. Thrupkaew reveals that human trafficking is something that affects each and every one of us, especially in how we purchase goods and services.
 

Without a doubt, the connection between consumerism and human trafficking is a devastating reality. But with awareness, we can make small changes that can disrupt this modern-day slavery. In the TED talk, Thrupkaew offers ways that we can re-think human trafficking and begin addressing how it is used for greed.
 

Be aware. Realize that human trafficking happens in your country, your city, your neighborhood. Only in our awareness can we influence change.

Explore Moyo

What Is This?
Encounters

Choose from among all of the Encounter videos to explore different perspectives on each topic.

Encounter Now
Reflections

Select your own Reflections from all available options to personalize your journey into each topic.

Reflect Now
Actions

Explore an initial selection of Actions you can take to start making a difference right away.

Act Now

Share