Slavery is happening across the globe and it ends up in your home. It could be the jewelry you're wearing, the shrimp you had for dinner, the shoes on your feet, the phone in your pocket, or the Christmas decorations adorning your tree.
As we thank God for the many people and their hands that produce our food, we can be thankful for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Program. Publix Supermarket needs to hear from us that it is time to change.
In China, artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, cotton, electronics, fireworks, footwear, garments, nails and toys are all known to be produced by forced labor. And China is far from being the only country on the list.
The corporate sector holds prevention in their hands, touching the livelihoods and freedom of millions worldwide. I no longer see products on shelves; I see the many hands that touched them and wonder.
The responsibility lies with the U.S. government to ensure that these workers -- who provide valuable services to our troops and embassies -- are not trafficked, forced into indentured servitude, or otherwise exploited on the taxpayer's dime.
Vietnam advertises itself as a tourist paradise and low-cost hub for manufacturing. But unless the government ends the torture and forced labor of drug users in the name of "treatment," it may be equally well known as well as the source of "blood cashews."
Last week, human rights groups released a damning report documenting how ordinary Burmese convicts are brutally forced by the state to carry heavy munitions and supplies for the Burma Army, acting as human shields.
The 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report features an increased focus on forced labor, and this is to be commended -- one step forward. However, it still falls quite short of expectations -- there are at least two steps back.
On Monday, government officials, law enforcement agents, advocates, and journalists head to the Department of State to discuss slavery. They will not receive a history lesson. They will discuss a problem that still affects at least 12.3 million people worldwide.
Current human trafficking policies are having a detrimental effect on those they are designed to help. There is a sharp disconnect between stereotypes of the typical "trafficked victim" and the reality of forced labor and migration globally.
As a nation and as members of the global community, we reject the proposition that it is acceptable to pursue economic gain through the exploitation of human beings. No nation does, nor should get ahead, at the peril of its workers.