How Many Slaves Do You Own?

How Many Slaves Do You Own?

We might all think that slavery is a thing of the past because we don’t see people in chains or working for long hours in sugar plantations. In this week’s Mission Blog, we look at how, slavery in its modern form is alive and well and we are all to some extent, complicit in the act.

How Might That Be?

You might ask how that might be. Modern-day slavery hides in very subtle ways in everyday living.

From the clothing we buy to our footwear, stationery, electronic gadgets, and even the food we eat, have we really explored where our products come from? How often do we check the labels or do some research into the company producing the product? Are we more concerned about snagging a bargain or acquiring an item to keep up with our peers, not caring where the product comes from? In essence, how ethical is our shopping, and to what extent are we supporting modern-day slavery?

Raising Student Awareness

The Year 12 Religion (General) classes recently completed a study on modern-day slavery. The aim of the unit was to raise awareness of where modern-day slavery lurks in everyday life and for students to connect their learning in the classroom to their shopping habits. While many were aware of human trafficking and forced marriage to some extent, what came as a surprise to many, after conducting an online survey about their spending habits, were how many slaves they owned, indirectly. They were surprised to discover that some of the food they ate, the electronic gadgets they used, or their stationery, supported modern-day slavery.,

Good On You

Students also accessed the App ‘Good On You’, available for Apple and Android devices, to discover how ethical their clothes shopping was. The girls discovered that some of their most loved brands employed people who worked under terrible working conditions. Many of them on less than a liveable wage, while business owners reaped a fortune in profits from unsuspecting or naïve consumers. Essentially, they discovered that business owners showed little to no regard for the dignity of their workers, as long as the products they sold brought them maximum profit. 

I asked some of the students how they felt when they discovered they could be enabling modern-day slavery through their consumption habits. Many said that they had no idea of the extent of the problem and some said that they could not believe how this was allowed to happen. One student commented on how she has started having the conversation with her parents and siblings and they have already made a change to how and where they shop. All the students have downloaded the App so they can make informed decisions about the brands they support. What a wonderful way to connect learning to real-life experiences.


All human beings are precious, possessing inestimable dignity. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbour as ourselves. Everybody shares common humanity that binds us to each other. We must stand in solidarity with those exploited for the benefit of others. We can all make a stand, by paying attention to the products we purchase. We must ask “How many people will continue to be enslaved if I purchase this product?”

Are you brave enough to research the company of your favorite brand?   

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