Human Trafficking is the second largest international crime. There are an estimated 40 million people in Modern Slavery today. No country, city, or industry is immune to it, even the fashion industry.
Slavery can occur on farms, in factories and in homes. For example, forced labour and child labour have been found on cotton farms in Uzbekistan and Pakistan. More recently, concerns have been raised over accusations of forced labour in garment and textiles factories in Xinjiang, China. Evidence of forced labour have been accumulating, including in this research paper.
While factories are subject to labour regulations, clothes are also made in homes or informal settings where it is difficult to impose regulations and protect workers. For example, a report in 2019 exposed widespread forced labour, bonded labour and child labour in India’s home-based garment sector.
Are you supporting slavery without knowing it? For more on this, here’s a podcast on this question.
You may have heard of the term “Fast Fashion”.
Fast fashion is a business model that markets trendy clothing which are cheap and disposable. The clothes go out of trend very quickly and then new trends are marketed to consumers.
Needless to say, to make this business model work, labour costs must be brought as low as possible, making conditions for workers ever more exploitative. Fast Fashion also has a terrible impact on the environment.