Over the last few months, I’ve been encouraged by the increasing number of people who are becoming involved in the abolitionist movement targeting modern day slavery. As sad as it is that there are more slaves today than at any other point in history, people are beginning to open their eyes and do something about it.
As a former youth minister, I witnessed high school teens become passionate about using their voice on behalf of millions of silent victims. Today, these teenagers (now young adults) are starting nonprofits, leading awareness marches and petitioning this country’s lawmakers to stand with the victims of human trafficking.
While it can often feel like we are powerless to address such large issues, nothing could be further from the truth. Over the last few months, thousands of people around the country have reached out to their members of congress to urge them to cosponsor and pass the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act. Don’t let this mouthful obscure the positive impact that this bill would have.
This bill would ensure that the products we purchase are not made using child and forced labor, slaves or victims of human trafficking. Oftentimes we forget that behind every pair of pants, every bar of chocolate and every cup of coffee is a human face. The proposed legislation, if enacted, would play an important role in enhancing respect for human dignity by fighting conditions that allow human trafficking to exist in our world today.
While it has been encouraging to see a growing awareness on this issue, we can always do more. As this election year kicks into high gear, it will be critical to lift up the issues that have a claim on our individual and social moral conscience. Human trafficking is one such issue. No one should be forced to work long hours for meager wages.
Consumers who wish to withdraw their support from companies who benefit from labor exploitation should be given the information necessary to make informed decisions about the products they purchase. People on all sides of the aisle are supporting this bill because it has the potential to reduce vast human suffering by shedding light on parts of the supply chain that are riddled with human rights violations.
And so, I encourage all readers to write or call their members of Congress to urge them to cosponsor and pass the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act before the next election. Like the young adults who I led during my time as a youth minister, let us bring others into the modern day abolitionist movement, because it is only by joining together that we can address the most pressing issues of our day.
Sergio Lopez is a Catholic Relief Services relationship manager based in Los Angeles.