Amazon has come under fire from shoppers and anti-slavery campaign groups for a range of products bearing the slogans “Slavery makes s*** happen” and “Slavery gets s*** done.”
The range includes t-shirts, mugs, baby bibs, tote bags, and jumpers — and it's modelled on the site on children and infants.
.@amazon how lovely is this? A little white boy with a highly insensitive and ignorant ‘Slavery Gets Shit Done’ bib on. Hmm.. did they pick the cotton right amazon? Or no? Gotta love 2018, what a great start. #Amazon#BOYCOTTAMAZONpic.twitter.com/DKKLFH4JKJ— Grace Croft (@Queen___Grace) January 19, 2018
The retailer has been accused of trivialising slavery, which experts say still affects an estimated 40 million people around the world.
Amazon has removed the products from the site following the uproar on Monday.
“One in four of the estimated 40 million people in slavery today are children,” David Westlake, the CEO of International Justice Mission UK, which tackles injustice worldwide, told Global Citizen.
“Today, children the same age as those modelling these t-shirts will be forced to work long, back-breaking hours for no pay,” he continued. “They will be living in desperate conditions where starvation, beatings, and sleep deprivation are common.”
“There is nothing humorous in the fact that around the world, women, men, and children are being sold as personal property and are victims of violence and abuse,” he said. “It is not funny that often products we buy here in the West — including t-shirts — can have slavery and child labour in their supply chains.”
Westlake said that, rather than trivialising slavery, “companies and the global community need to recognise the vast injustice of modern slavery and work together to end it for good.”
Anti-Slavery International also described the products as “absolutely shocking” and called on Amazon to “do better to control what you sell.”
A spokesperson for Amazon told Global Citizen: “All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available.”
Amazon itself is one of an increasing number of companies working to eliminate modern slavery and human trafficking from its manufacturing supply chains and operations, in line with the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
“Amazon is committed to addressing the risk of slavery and human trafficking in its Supply Chain Standards, which include steps taken to ensure conformance to those standards,” the company says in a statement on its website.
The news follows a crackdown on modern slavery by local authorities in Britain, with officials warning that “there is a good chance that modern slavery is taking place in the towns, cities, and villages where we live,” according to Simon Blackburn, of the UK’s Local Government Association.
Across England and Wales, local councils have seen a rise in the numbers of slavery and human trafficking victims they are reporting.
The number of cases that local authorities reported to law enforcement rose by nearly 50% in just a year in the UK — up to 1,322 cases reported between July and September 2017.
The government, meanwhile, estimates there are between 10,000 and 13,000 potential modern slavery victims in the UK. But that figure has been described by anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland as “far too modest.”
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