Pope Francis

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Ken Adam’s “The Devils”

As the January sales season nears in the West, Pope Francis will call on shoppers not to buy products which may have been made by modern-day slaves – whatever the savings.  In a speech to be delivered on January 1 entitled “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters,” the Pope will say that despite the financial crisis, consumers should think twice before buying “items which may have been produced by exploiting others.”

Photographer Marc Hom

Photographer Marc Hom

For their part, businesses “have a duty to be vigilant that forms of subjugation or human trafficking do not find their way into the distribution chain.”  His message, published by the Vatican on Wednesday, December 10, slams “the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man,” an “abominable phenomenon” covering everything from forced prostitution to child soldiers and slave labor in factories.

Lara Stone Vogue Paris December 2009

Lara Stone Vogue Paris December 2009

He warns that a common source of slavery is “corruption on the part of people willing to do anything for financial gain.”  He notes that slave labour and trafficking “often require the complicity of intermediaries”, pointing the finger at “law enforcement personnel, state officials, or civil and military institutions.”

Dolce & Gabbana Fall Winter 2014

Dolce & Gabbana Fall Winter 2014

According to the 2014 Global Slavery index, published last month, nearly 36 million men, women and children are trapped in modern-day slavery, the definition of which ranges from forced marriages to people coerced into prostitution, fighting wars or manual labor like picking cotton.

KateMossChurch

Kate Moss – W Magazine

The 77-year-old pope calls for better cooperation between countries to combat “the transnational networks of organized crime” and bemoans the “context of general indifference” in which tales of slavery are heard.

French designer Jean-Charles Castelbajac

French designer Jean-Charles Castelbajac

In the speech he says his thoughts go to refugees and migrants “deprived of freedom”, who “in order to remain within the law, agree to disgraceful living and working conditions” as well as those rendered “objects of trafficking for the sale of organs, for recruitment of soldiers, for begging.”

Crucifix heels

Crucifix heels

“I think also of persons forced into prostitution, many of whom are minors, as well as male and female sex slaves… (of) women forced into marriage, those sold for arranged marriages and those bequeathed to relatives of deceased husbands,” he says.

Another Bangladesh Tragedy

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Our thoughts today go out Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is dreadful that governments continue to allow garment workers to die or suffer terrible, disabling injuries in unsafe factories making clothes for western nations’ shoppers. How many more lives must be lost or crushed before ministers, companies and consumers act to stop these scandalous human tragedies? Shame on you The Children’s Place, Joe Fresh, Primark, New Wave Style, Ether Tex, Canton Tech Apparel and New Wave Bottoms. Since 2005, more than 700 garment workers have died in Bangladesh, according to the International Labor Rights Forum.