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Conscious Consumption During the Holidays

After people learn about human trafficking, they often want to know how to make a difference. The question our staff regularly receives following a presentation on the issue. In response, we tell these folks to act as conscious consumers. Invariably, people’s faces contort into expressions of confusion as if to say, “what does that mean?” Since it's the holiday season, we figured this was a good time to explain ourselves.

The first step towards conscious consumption is the realization that our purchasing decisions are choices, and these choices have social consequences. Many of us are lucky enough to pick our own clothing, choose the food we eat, and buy the latest tech gadget. Yet we rarely stop to think about where the products we purchase come from and what (and who) was involved in their production. It's critical to keep this in mind because suppliers position their products, sales, and marketing on the basis of market demand (i.e. what we buy). If we collectively continue to purchase products tainted with forced labor, the market will continue producing these things. This dynamic is why it is essential that consumers are educated on human trafficking and how it may be linked to the products we buy every day.

A variety of organizations such as Made in a Free World and United Against Human Trafficking provide great starting points. They house basic information and links about this issue, which help educate consumers about products and industries susceptible to forced labor, which can help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. However, this requires individuals to research company operations, read corporate governance letters, and make decisions about whether or not they believe a particular company has taken reasonable steps to act as good corporate stewards. Put differently, a conscious consumer is information literate.
 They take the time to search for, filter, and process information, in order to reach an informed conclusion about whether or not a purchasing decision conforms with their values. This is a lengthy process, to put it mildly. In recognition of this, organizations like Fair Trade USA provide consumers a quick and safe way to make purchasing decisions. The Fair Trade Certified label provides assurance to the consumer that their purchase supports a responsibly produced product that supports income sustainability, empowerment of workers, individual and community well being, and environmental stewardship. 

It takes a great deal of time and energy to act as a conscious consumer. Fortunately for us, various organizations and outlets exist to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. The decision to purchase one product over another may not seem like a big deal, but these decisions multiplied overtime by millions of individuals can have a profound impact on our lives and the lives of others. Progress is slow, but with more people making ethical purchasing decisions, we can realize a more just and equitable world.

In the News

Photograph of a truck in the mountains
A legislative proposal for next year's legislative session would require licensed Colorado schools that provide commercial driver's licenses (CDL) to have their students receive training on how to identify signs of human trafficking. The bill appears to have support from the trucking industry and follows a model that has been implemented in other states. Representative Dominque Jackson, D-Aurora, a bill sponsor, does not expect the legislation to add any cost to truckers going through a CDL course.

wall art mural painting graffiti
In the UK, the University of Nottingham is launching a collection of murals focused on the history of slavery and the anti-slavery movement. The University's Rights Lab has also created a collection of narratives and art from across the globe to help build a multi-dimensional movement that makes central the voices, ideas, and strategies of slavery survivors.
books movie titles scripts reading
A number of A-list celebrities have taken to social media to lend their support to Cyntoia Brown, a woman who has spent the past 13 years in prison for killing a man who had hired her as a prostitute at the age of 16. Ms. Brown's case originally appeared in a 2011 PBS documentary but until recently, her story had limited reach. While in prison, Ms. Brown earned an associates degree and hopes to receive her bachelor of arts next year. 

comic book illustration
A New York City graphic novelist has written two human trafficking focused comic books; the most recent of which supports a proposed New York Assembly Bill which would no longer require prosecutors to prove "coercion" when a minor victim is the target of trafficking.The short comic book helped set the bill apart from others, grabbing the attention of legislators and their staffs.

Prosecutions and Convictions

An 18th Judicial District court sentenced Brock Franklin to over 400-years in prison, the longest sentence handed down in Colorado for a human trafficking case. He was found guilty on 30 counts including the sexual exploitation of a child, sexual servitude of an adult, sexual assault of a minor, child prostitution, kidnapping, pimping of a child, and racketeering. During the sentencing hearing, two survivor letters were read in Court that afternoon, as well as an in-person testimony from another one of the survivors. 

Training Opportunities

Northern Colorado will host the First Annual Human Trafficking Symposium on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at Colorado State University. For more information, including how to register, visit the Symposium's Official Registration page. 

Registration is open for the 16th Annual Freedom Network Conference on April 4 – 5th, 2018 in Denver at the Grand Hyatt.  Learn more about the 2018 Freedom Network Conference by visiting the conference web page.

Regional Anti-Trafficking Collaboration Meetings

December 11th,  4:00 – 5:00 PM: Western Slope Against Trafficking. Meetings are held in Grand Junction, CO but are not open to the public. For more information contact Tom Acker.

December 12th,  5:30 – 6:30 PM: Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado. This meeting is held at the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs (map). For more information, please contact Roger Patrizio.

December 14th, 3:00 – 5:00 PM:  North Eastern Colorado Coalition Against Trafficking. Meetings are held in Greeley, CO but are not open to the public. For more information, please contact Diana Laws.

CHTC and FRAC Meeting Dates

Upcoming FRAC Meeting

January 18th from 2:00 3:30 PM:  Front Range Anti-trafficking Coalition (FRAC) meetings are open to the public. The location of the next FRAC meeting is the Community Room at the DPD District II Station. For more information about the next FRAC meeting, please contact Catherine Bowman.

Upcoming CHTC Annual Retreat

January 26th from 9:00 AM 4:00 PM. The retreat will begin at 9 AM. Colorado Human Trafficking Council (CHTC) meetings are always open to the public and held at the Jefferson County Human Services Building (map). For more information about the CHTC please visit the CHTC Homepage.
The content of this newsletter is not an endorsement nor does it reflect the opinions, views, or affiliations of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, the Colorado Human Trafficking Council, or the Front-Range Anti-trafficking Coalition. The content of this newsletter is intended for informational purposes only. 

Copyright © 2017 Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, Office for Victims Programs, All rights reserved.

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