Human Rights Day is being highlighted today by students symbolically confined in a 'human vending machine' to highlight modern-day slavery practices hidden in our food.
They want to illustrate the plight of an estimated 25 million* people trapped in forced labour across the world, including right here in the UK.
Widespread forced labour and suffering have prompted the initiative, It’s Time to Break the Chain, launched in London today – Human Rights Day, by the University of Hull.
It aims to raise awareness across the UK to get people talking and sharing it to spread the message.
University of Hull students will take it in turns to be symbolically ‘confined’ within the ‘human vending machine’
It is designed to demonstrate the significant risk of exploitative practices that lay hidden within the supply chains of some of our most commonplace household goods – the food on our tables.
“Stepping inside the vending machine makes me feel numb. It is so horrifying but numbing at the same time. While I am doing it as a way to illustrate the plight of the millions of people trapped in forced labour, for these people the feeling of being trapped is an everyday reality,” said Courtney Derrico, a drama student from the University of Hull.
The It’s Time to Break the Chain initiative outlines that people could and should use their consumer power to put pressure on companies to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labour, say the organisers.
They are encouraging people to share #BreakTheChain to help influence businesses and organisations to take action against modern slavery practices such as forced labour and human trafficking in their supply chains.
They say William Wilberforce MP, who dedicated most of his life to the movement that led to the abolition of the British slave trade over 200 years ago, would be tweeting about it today.
And they want others to do the same using the hashtag #BreakTheChain.
Acting on a new survey by the University of Hull and YouGov which demonstrates consumer appetite for more ethical practices from businesses – 77 per cent of UK adults would consider switching products if they became aware that modern-day slavery practices such as forced labour and human trafficking were used within the fresh food product(s) they purchased – the students are asking people to take time to think about the human cost.
Kira Johnson, a law student at the University of Hull, said: “My interest in this issue came from the time when I was 17 and working for a big clothing chain.
"Now I am in the third year of my law degree and am considering doing a masters so that I can pursue a career in human rights to help all those who are being exploited.”