Do you know your toddler’s "slave footprint"? Mine has 20 slaves
Your toddler's "slave footprint" – how many modern-day slaves have been used to produce those diapers, toys, and accessories – can be calculated on a new human trafficking website.
Apparently, I have 47 slaves.Skip to next paragraph
is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..
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This has come as quite a surprise to me. Like most comfortable and educated Americans, before a few months ago I barely realized that slavery – even as the somewhat more broadly defined “modern day slavery” – still existed. And if I did have a fuzzy idea about the forced labor and human trafficking that exists around the globe, I certainly didn’t think I had any hand in it. I mean, I buy organic. I walk to the grocery story. I even had one of those "(Product) Red" campaign Gap T-shirts, before I shrunk it. I’m a “good” consumer.
But working on this week’s Monitor magazine cover story about sex trafficking, I came across a website supported by the US State Department that lets people find out their “slavery footprint.” Basically, you enter a bunch of information about your lifestyle – the rooms in your house, the sort of food you eat, and so on - and the super easy website shoots back the number of slaves you use, along with other information.
The results are sobering. But so is this: Of my 47 slaves, who is responsible for almost 20? My toddler.
I should have known I was in trouble when the website started asking me about bath toys. But I saw I was really in for it when I read questions about the number of dresses my 18-month-old baby owns, how many stuffed animals, strollers and soft toys, how many pairs of baby jeans and baby dolls. Every time I clicked – increasingly embarrassed – my slavery count ticked upwards.
This was not exactly the image of sweet, innocent childhood that the various retailers of said products would like me to envision.
See, it turns out that many of the toys and baby products that fill American family homes are really bad for other families and kids – kids who live across the world in developing countries. While the nonprofit group Slavery Footprint, which launched the website last year with help from the US government, acknowledges that it doesn’t know whether your particular Winnie-the-Pooh romper was made by someone in slavery-like conditions at a Chinese sweatshop, or by a indentured child servant in India, it says has a pretty good idea of the averages. And those averages, such as the 1.9 “slaves” connected with Baby M’s diapers, are disturbing.