Thursday, December 13, 2018
In the Spirit of Giving this Season: Give the Gift of FREEDOM by Christine Commerce, Diocese of Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force
Reflect upon your purchasing habits
Christine Commerce, Diocese of Orlando's New Human Trafficking Task Force Coordinator, challenges us to become ethical consumers in her recent blog post addressing labor trafficking and exploitation. "In our society of excessive consumerism, we often purchase things, whether we need them or not, just because it was on sale or we got a great deal. People don't realize that many toys and clothing produced in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are produced through either child labor, forced labor or forced child labor."
As the holiday season is upon us, here’s a challenge for you. Instead of days on end braving the crowds, fighting for a parking space and then frantically searching for the best deal for stuff that you and your loved ones probably don’t need, place more emphasis on the gift of time with family, friends, and those who are lonely.
In our society of excessive consumerism, we often purchase things, whether we need them or not, just because it was on sale or we got a great deal. People don’t realize that many toys and clothing produced in countries such as Bangladesh, Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are produced through either child labor, forced labor or forced child labor.
According to the United States Department of Labor, child labor 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: All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, and where work is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
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) cause the belief that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another would suffer serious harm or physical restraint.
Consider shopping instead this holiday season with the Catholic Relief Services Ethical Trade Program (www.Ethicaltrade.CRS.org ) which has a plethora of reasonably priced gifts. This price tag comes with the knowledge that you helped uplift a world of people, who are paid fair wages, provided safer working conditions and have environmentally sustainable practices. So, if you’re looking for a good deal or even a fundraiser for your parish – that’s two great causes for the price of one.
If you decide to brave the hordes of shoppers searching for that excellent deal, consider downloading the Sweat & Toil app from the U.S. Dept. of Labor at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/. There at your fingertips, you will find a complete list of products and the countries that contribute to labor trafficking. Consider using this app not only during Christmas but throughout the coming year. It could be your New Year’s Resolution! Buying smarter may not save money but can help save lives.
“Things have a price and can be for sale. But people have dignity that is priceless and worth far more than things.” – Pope Francis