Women of Vision Event
Last week, Austin Women of Vision hosted a community event in North Austin. This event was a hosted by a speaker named Jesse Eaves. Jesse resides in Washington D.C. and does an extensive amount of policy work around human trafficking and modern slavery. I really enjoyed Jesse’s speech, he was very knowledgeable . He spoke about policy surrounding human trafficking and modern slavery. Jesse explained the importance of the human trafficking movement, saying that this is a crucial point in the movement. Since a number of legislative measures have been passed, Americans face the most difficult part of eliminating modern slavery: sustaining the movement.
Although Jesse works a lot internationally, he spoke mostly about the prevalence of human trafficking here in America. He focused mostly on tomato farming in Florida. In early 2011, a documentary entitled “The Harvest” gained massive amounts of media attention and political focus. “The Harvest” is a documentary showing modern slavery in the tomato farming industry in Florida. Many Mexican farm workers trade farm work for the opportunity to come to America, most workers made one to two cents per pound of picked tomatoes. This low wage practice is possible because big buyers (such as large supermarket chains and fast-food restaurants) buy tomatoes in massive bulk amounts, leading to a much lower cost per pound.
After gaining an immense amount of attention, coalitions and community grass roots organizations began to collaborate to stop modern slavery of the tomato industry. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a community based organization of migrant workers, created the Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program has made considerable progress in the unethical practices of the tomato industry. Participants of this program purchase 1 pound of tomatoes for an extra penny (literally, an extra $0.01). This extra penny goes a long way. It increases the salary and treatment of tomato farm workers. Other initiatives were started through the Fair Food Program, such as a hotline, to ensure safe confidential tips of modern slavery or unfair treatment of workers throughout the country.
I really enjoyed Jesse Eave’s lecture on modern slavery. He brought to light many instances of modern slavery that still take place in America’s back yard.
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