By Outland Denim Director of Communications, Erica Bartle.
The denim jean market is worth $56 billion.
Human Trafficking? $150 billion.
Here at Outland Denim we have been immersed in the discourse around human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, since our genesis in a movie theatre over a decade ago. It was then that my husband and I, along with some friends, were first made aware of the issue watching a film called Taken.
While the issue of human trafficking is much more complex than a Hollywood film can project, we can’t underestimate the necessity of using platforms such as film, media and social media to talk about the issue.
Conversation, education and ongoing communication are key to eradicating what is an estimated US$150 billion industry: the trade of real people for financial gain.
Statistics sometimes can't convey the gravity of a problem, nor the impact on an individual.
But when you listen to Nadia Murad speak at the UN General Assembly about her experience as a sex slave at the hands of ISIS, you know that this is not some made up thing. It is the same when you hear the stories of some of the women employed by Outland Denim.
Human trafficking is a human rights violation. It is taking away the freedom of another for your own personal gain. It is ugly and demonstrative of just how debased humanity can be.
We have always taken care at Outland Denim to not over-sensationalise the issue, to protect the women we employ who have experienced exploitation from re-traumatisation, and to ensure that they are not re-exploited in any way by partnering with us to create an amazing denim brand with a bigger purpose.
An estimated 71% of the 40.3 million people trapped in modern slavery are women and girls, and they account for 99% of the sexually exploited (who make up 19% of all modern slaves). These young women need to be given the chance to rise above their circumstances.
Outland Denim exists to address a considerable human rights issue in a very tangible way: we are about opportunity.
With automation looming on the horizon, which is expected to impact the millions of women working in the garment industry, we are also concerned about the push effect: women coming out of the garment trade with very few options for other employment and their prospects at the hand of human traffickers.
Despite these challenges there remains a great opportunity to change the face of human trafficking via fashion and other industries in collaboration with government, law enforcements agencies, NGOs, the media and community stakeholders.
The private sector is critical to economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly in developing nations where the private sector generates 90 per cent of jobs, funds 60 per cent of all investments and provides more than 80 per cent of government revenues.
We believe that the private sector, and fashion industry, has a crucial role to play in poverty eradication and the curbing of human rights abuses such as the exploitation of people for profit.
The clothing that we choose to wear can have an enormous impact. It has always been our vision at Outland Denim to empower consumers to make a difference through their personal choices.
We also believe that victims of human trafficking and exploitation can help to facilitate a solution to these pressing global social issues via the new ethical and sustainable economy.
We invite you to share on July 30, the United Nations Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and help shed light on social injustice. Together we can help to solve an issue that is too big to solve individually.