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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Modern-day slavery worse than ever

When you think about slavery, typically you think about the institution that was abolished in the U.S. when Congress passed the 13th Amendment in 1865. Now 151 years later, the institution is more prominent than ever, but awareness is at an all-time low.

Something happened in the U.S. last week that has been largely swept aside. We get so caught up in the chaos that our presidential candidates bring to the stage that we are missing great things being done by our current president and I don’t think this is fair.

Last Wednesday, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which essentially bans the importation of any products produced by the use of slave labor.

Technically, this was already done with the Tariff Act of 1930, however, according to ABC News, this act was last enforced in 2000 and was only enforced 39 times in the 86 years it was in effect.

How can this be?

The U.S. relies heavily on trade with other countries, and we import millions of goods every year. If there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, the goods were allowed to cross our borders despite how officials knew they were being produced, according to ABC News.

With Obama signing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, the enforcement of the original act is expected to greatly increase.

The first step to ending modern day slavery is to raise awareness and it appears the most powerful man in the world is now aware.

Modern day slavery is a much larger issue than most people realize.

International Labour Organisation estimates that over 21 million individuals around the world are in some form of slavery; the practice takes many forms.

“From women forced into prostitution, children and adults forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, or factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains, entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts; or girls forced to marry older men,” said Anti-Slavery International, an organization aimed at putting an end to modern slavery.

In a country where we so often take our freedoms for granted, it is understandable that this issue is at the back of most of our minds. Awareness is not where it should be but we are taking steps in the right direction.

By eliminating the demand for the slave-made products, we take a huge stride toward eliminating the awful institution permanently.

Obama has taken his fair share of harsh criticism during his presidency. But if we are going to criticize the president when he does something that we feel is wrong, then he absolutely deserves praise when he does something that is unarguably right.

My hope is that we don’t get so caught in the rhetoric that spews from the people running for presidency that we miss the great things our current president is doing for our country and the world.

Opinion columnist Reagan Earnst is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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