Modern Slavery In The Fashion Industry: Ben Samaroo Is Shedding Light On This Undisclosed Situation Occurring In Today’s Culture

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Believe it or not, slavery is worse than it ever has been, but no one knows about it. Society correlates slavery as a thing of the past, but shockingly, it couldn’t be more prevalent in today’s culture. Ben Samaroo, the founder of WonderFi, is breaking the silence of this undisclosed situation and educating people on the very real crisis the world is facing.

Have you ever wondered where the piece of clothing or pair of shoes you’re wearing comes from? And how you may be contributing to the situation that is modern slavery?

Slavery exists because of greed, and we are seeing the highest number of slaves in human history. The unfortunate part is, it’s more than likely this is the first you’re hearing about it. 

Most of us are aware of fast fashion and the negative contribution it plays to the climate crisis, but what isn’t discussed or widely known is how it also fuels modern slavery, a topic many consider “taboo.” 

The reality is, even though major brands are standing to make a change for the environment by incorporating sustainable methods, fast fashion continues to be on the rise, and popular apparel brands including H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are still contributing to the modern slavery issue. The high demand of the consumer market for trending styles causes these popular brands to put extreme pressure on workers in developing countries so they can deliver items quickly and affordably. The companies do so while neglecting workers, leaving them in poor working conditions. 

These brands import garments from Bangladesh and Vietnam that use Xinjiang cotton, a region in China that was found keeping Uighurs and other Muslims in internment camps and forcing them to work under inhumane conditions. 

Even though the US has since banned imports of cotton and other raw materials from Xinjiang in January of 2021, it remains difficult for corporations to ensure their imported goods from China are free of forced labour. 

Modern slavery is defined as “the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain,” as stated by the abolitionist group Anti-Slavery International. And that is exactly what is happening with forced labour, which involves people performing work involuntarily and under the menace of any penalty. 

Often under-resourced women and girls are victims, nearly 4 out of every 5 people, as it’s easier to sway them into these situations. And children make up 12% of all those in forced labour, exploited every day by large companies. All these people are unable to refuse work and cannot leave due to threats, violence, deception, and abuse of power. People are being forced to work against their will, and are kept as slaves for the benefit of these large companies. 

One individual is raising his voice on the issue to bring attention to this inhumane state of the world.

“There’s nowhere near enough attention or capital that’s being focused on this issue and that’s why I want to be aggressive and make as much noise as possible,” Ben Samaroo, recently seen in the Toronto Star, emphasizes.

Samaroo is the co-founder and CEO of WonderFi, the largest crypto company in Canada and the only publicly listed crypto platform on the TSX, Canada’s largest stock exchange. The company provides compliant and regulated access to crypto making it safe and secure for users trading on the platform.

Indentured servitude, something Samaroo’s grandpa was born into on a Caribbean sugar cane plantation in 1917, is one of the foundations of modern slavery. 

The state of modern slavery is rapidly growing and has risen from 40 million to 50 million people in the last five years, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), which translates to nearly one of every 150 people worldwide.  

As shocking as that number may be, society is blindly facilitating this situation as it continues to get worse and worse.  

Slavery in the 21st century is driven by large companies that are receiving pressure from stakeholders to improve their profit margins. The only way these large companies can meet these demands is to use cheaper labor, and what ends up happening is people in vulnerable communities are deceived and tricked into working in environments that are equivalent to slavery situations. 

In places like India, China, and Bangladesh, large companies take away other viable options for these people. And many are born into this system, sugarcoated as indentured servitude, as their parents were indentured to work in factories or sweatshops. 

“That’s what happened to my ancestors. They were told ‘this is going to give you freedom’,” Samaroo shares. And without the proper education, his ancestors didn’t know any better so they signed a contract and became enslaved to those factories. 

“I realise how lucky I am to be a free man living in Canada … and my family had to win the lottery hundreds of times for that freedom to happen,” says Samaroo, but that begs the question, what’s next? “There’s still 50 billion people that have no liberties at all.”

There reaches a point when certain situations can no longer be ignored, and this is one of those situations. Forced labour deserves widespread recognition and awareness so society no longer ignorantly contributes to forced labour. Next time you enter a big fashion brand store, educate yourself on how they source and manufacture their clothing items and consider how it affects your contribution to modern slavery. 

Do your part in raising awareness for the 50 million suffering from modern slavery and follow along with Ben Samaroo’s mission to show your support.

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