Methodology of “Slavery Footprint” Survey

Yesterday I lost my gold watch necklace on the university campus where I was tracking around in the rain and fallen, colorful autumn leaves. We were plotting our strategy about how to help young students become aware of human trafficking in an upcoming event in November titled “The Dark Truth.”  The truth is, losing a sentimental piece of jewelry that my husband gave me over ten years ago pales in comparison to what others around the world have lost. Globally many slaves, and even in my home state of Minnesota, have lost their innocence, their freedom, their chance for education, their family and all their possessions.  What’s a gold watch compared to everything else I could lose if I were a slave?

I took the survey on the Slavery Footprint website again just to remind myself what it means to not be free. The survey has 10 factoids next to each question, I will write out in a later post.  Last time I took this survey I had a score of 22 slaves work for me based on my home, what I eat and wear, jewelry, what’s in my medicine shelf, my cosmetics, the electronics that I use, etc.  Today I got a 29 score.  Not good since after losing a gold watch, I thought my score would have decreased instead of increase.

The following questions in the survey and subsequent scores have been sorted out by many different organizations that have collaborated on their statistics.See how the creators of Slavery Footprint Survey explained their methodology:


How did you come up with the total number of slaves working for me?

Your TOTAL SLAVERY FOOTPRINT represents the number of forced laborers that were likely to be involved in creating and manufacturing the products you buy. This is determined based on information regarding the processes used to create these products as well as investigations of the countries in which these stages of production take place for known slave labor (within these specific processes.) This number is compiled from multiple individual product scores (see below).

In order to create individual scores, we first chose to investigate slave labor usage in the supply chains of more than 400 of the most popular consumer products. We used the following definitions of slave labor:

How do we define Slavery? (Forced Labor):

Anyone who is forced to work without pay, being economically exploited, and is unable to walk away. Note: Forced Labor, also known as involuntary servitude, may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or cultural acceptance of the practice. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well.

After investigating the slavery usage in individual product components, based on the most common places in which they are mined, grown or made, we assigned scores to each of these 400+ products. These scores were based on a complex algorithm that determines the minimum number of slaves (forced laborers) used to produce each product.

Weights, Measurements, and Reports

Each score therefore represents the likelihood of slavery used in production. This likelihood was developed from investigations and research drawn from the following sources:

The five main reports we used were:

1. Department of State “Trafficking in Persons Report 2011” The most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons.

2. Department of Labor (DOL) “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor 2010” A list of goods from countries that the Bureau of International Labor Affairs has substantiated used of forced labor or child labor its production.

3. International Labor Organization’s (ILO) “Committee of Experts Reports 2011-2003” The Committee of Experts undertakes investigations of government reports on ratified conventions. The Committee’s role is to provide an impartial evaluation of violations of international labor standards.

4. Transparency International‘s “Corruption Index 2010” This index is used to measure and quantify the levels of public sector corruption in 178 countries around the world.

5. Freedom House “Freedom in the World 2010 Combined Average Ratings – Independent Countries” The Freedom in the World 2010 survey contains reports on 194 countries and 14 related and disputed territories. Each country report includes a narrative on the following information: population, capital, political rights (numerical rating), civil liberties (numerical rating), status (Free, Partly Free, or Not Free), and a 10-year ratings timeline.

Additionally, we utilized published data pertaining to forced labor issues. This included vetted data drawn from a variety of international sources. The following inclusion criteria were used:

Drawn from ONE Internationally credible source with expert review (i.e. ILO, International Office for Migration, World Health Organization, United Nations Security Council)

Referenced in at least TWO multi-national reliable sources (i.e. CNN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International)

Reported on by at least THREE disparate and unrelated local news sources (i.e. The Guardian, Swedwatch, Jakarta Post, Enough Project)

Note: This data set will continue to be expanded based on emerging research and the results of further investigations that meet the aforementioned inclusion criteria.”

(to be continued to find out why this is connected to Kazakhstan!!!)

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