Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at the University of Nebraska


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Presentation for 2011 Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, September 29 - October 1, 2011, Lincoln, Nebraska. Copyright © 2011 Emily Lafferrandre.


Heralded as a success of the anti-slavery movement, the recent phenomena of market-based incentives, appeals to the consumer for direct action in combating human trafficking and child labor. One of the most successful examples of this is Rugmark, a transnational non-profit utilizing the social labeling model to promote fair labor practices in the production of Indian carpets. The organization attempts to extirpate child labor in India’s carpet belt region of Mirzapur and Bhadohi through strategic marketing, labeling of licensed carpets and enforcement of fair labor practices. Utilizing this case study, the research will scrutinize and objectively measure the level of success Rugmark has experienced not only in producing rugs free of child labor, but as well in effectively stymieing the practice of child labor within India’s carpet industry.

In contrast the Harkin- Engel’s Protocol fails to systemically challenge the issue of forced labor within the cocoa industry of the Ivory Coast. Signed in 2001 by the Chocolate Manufacturing Association and World Cocoa Foundation, the Harkin Engel Protocol is a voluntary, non-binding, non-legislative document in response to media reports of forced and child labor in cocoa plantations. Unfortunately, the international agreement has eventuated in meager results in curbing, preventing and eradicating child and forced labor in West Africa.

Popularly touted as a successful strategy in combating trafficking of all forms, the success of consumer- mandated, market based incentives proves complicated, defying the duality of black and white, success or failure. In order to impede child labor it is necessary to evaluate the relative effectiveness of market- based incentivize strategies, in order to discuss the complicity of consumer purchases within the modern day slave trade as well as mobilize consumers to advocate for fair labor standards through their product purchases.

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