To the editor: Modern-day slavery must be eliminated worldwide

On July 2, 1777, Vermont was the first colony to abolish slavery in its constitution as well as provide for full voting rights for African American males. In 1777, Vermonters owned 25 slaves. In December of 1865, the U.S. Congress ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the entire nation.

On Nov. 8, 2022 Vermonters, by an overwhelming majority vote, recommitted themselves morally and spiritually to the proposition that slavery is abhorrent to the human condition by passing Proposition 2.

While we as modern day Vermonters enjoy all the benefits of living as free men and women in an affluent and liberated society there are currently an estimated 40 million slaves in the world today. “This includes victims of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, and descent-based slavery.” Katrina Summer-Center for Global Justice. In 1860 the United States had an estimated 4 million slaves. Despite the legal abolitions, according to the global slavery index there are 57,000 people enslaved today in the United States.

Many of the comforts we enjoy as Vermonters and Americans come at the expense of our human brothers and sisters in far off places in the world. Our cell phones, solar energy and electric car batteries are sourced from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC has 873,100 slaves, 40,000 of whom are children working in the cobalt battery mines. The DRC supplies 60 percent of the world’s cobalt. The nation is an ecological and human rights nightmare. Corporate electric car manufacturers have made commitments to stopping child slavery but the huge increase in demand likely means these conditions will continue unabated.

The only way modern day slavery stops is a concerted effort to make the public aware of the external costs of our luxuries and for consumers to understand the consequences of their decisions in choosing how they spend their money.

There are many groups that are fiercely dedicated to the ending of slavery. Vermonters this holiday season as well as every single day have an opportunity to put into action the sentiment we expressed on Nov. 8. There are many organizations dedicated to the ending of slavery. A simple internet search will allow you to research which one is right for you. I happen to use this one.

Warmest Regards and Happy Thanksgiving.
Stu Lindberg

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