The Sweet Christian Bride

Modern-Day Slavery Part II

by admin on July 29, 2011 in Slavery-free, Vendor with 1 Comment

If you tuned in for Wednesday’s post, you know that slavery is far from abolished.  Because people are most often coerced, threatened or tricked into slavery, no one is totally invincible.  We need to care.  We need to be aware.

So how does this relate to your wedding planning?

Usually wedding planning vendors will be licensed companies who offer transparency in their businesses and who run on referrals.  The risk of using slave labor is too great if they truly want to be reputable and successful within the wildly profitable wedding industry.  Where you do run the risk of interacting with companies who use slave labor, however, are with the non-vendor related purchases and services you pay for.

As you try on wedding gowns, you might think you are getting a fantastic deal because the price is so low, but the garment industry is a major player in hiring people in dire financial situations, working them to the bone, and then paying them less than will afford them survival if they leave that job.  Ask the designer, the boutique owner, or the brand representative how their gowns are made.  Ask the Holy Spirit to grant you discernment.

Finding wedding rings that are made with cruelty-free or lab-grown diamonds is another prime opportunity to avoid exploiting slaves.  Many diamond companies “hire” people who risk their lives in the mines every day and yet who do not see the full wages for their labor.  They are slaves to drug lords or weapons dealers who are using the diamonds as a front to smuggle contraband through the underground market.  See Bride Diamonds, Not Blood Diamonds for more information on how to find a cruelty-free diamond.

For your pampering events with your bridesmaids, find nail spas and massage spas that use licensed workers.  Your massage therapists, especially, should have a business card with their credential initials after their names.  If you ask the owner of the nail spa whether they use slave labor, they are going to say no and will probably be very offended.  But if you find a 60 minute Thai massage for only $29.00 in the heart of the city and very few of the massage therapists speak any English, you should have some red flags go off.  Just because it’s a bargain for you, does not mean that you should do business there.  To get training on how to spot potential slave labor and how to report it, check out Polaris Project, which has an easy-to-follow one page starter manual. 

Restaurants are another hot-spot for slave labor.  Usually chain restaurants are fine because they can’t afford the risks associated with slave labor.  Family owned restaurants, however, especially ones with ethnic cuisine with indigenous employees, can be a prime opportunity for slave labor.  Under the promise of “a better life,” their workers are shipped out from their country of origin to provide “authentic” help in the restaurant.  But they can be underpaid and even locked up outside of working hours, under threat of being deported home or reported to the authorities as an illegal alien.  Again, not all hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants use slave labor, and none of them will disclose to you if they are, but as a consumer that drives the demand for cheap labor, you should do your due diligence before deciding to host your rehearsal dinner or hire your catering from a particular restaurant.

When you buy your guest favors or your bridal party gifts, you can buy from companies who do not use slave labor.  There are many websites that offer this information.  One in particular that I like (because you can buy a hand, pocket sized guide to take with you to the grocery store or the mall) is The Better World Shopping Guide.   Or many anti-trafficking organizations sell fair-trade merchandise or merchandise made from freed and rehabilitated slaves who need new vocational skills.  Buying your tote bags, your bridal jewelry, or other items directly from organizations like these support anti-trafficking efforts as well as support the rehabilitation of ex-slaves.

I purchased a bridal tiara from Jewels for Freedom, which gives 100% of its profits to Children on the Edge, a UK-based anti-trafficking and rehabilitation organization.   It was a beautiful tiara, shipped by someone with a heart to change lives, and it helped to fund the efforts of an organization that is trying to save the marginalized children from dire fates.  How cool that we can help to abolish slavery by the choices that we make!

I know that being a bride is a very busy time.  You might be saying, “Yes, I want to choose everything that is fair-trade and slavery-free, but I don’t have the time to figure out what companies those are.”  I will make an effort to present that information to you, to offer creative wedding ideas that help to support the abolition of modern-day slavery.  Keep checking into The Sweet Christian Bride for those ideas.  Abolishing slavery needs to matter.  We were all bought with a price so that we would be free in Christ, slave to nothing.

By Lindsay

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