a new report says the fashion industry is fueling modern slavery

This is a feminist issue.

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Jul 25 2018, 8:56pm

Weeks after news that Burberry burned nearly $37 million of unsold stock, a new report has identified the fashion industry as one of the five major industries in the world contributing to modern slavery.

The findings, which come from the Walk Free Foundation, publishers of The Global Slavery Index 2018 report, show that fashion garments are among the biggest items at risk of being produced through modern slavery practices. These modern slavery practices, according to the report, are defined as situations of exploitation where a person is unable to leave because of violence, threats, coercion, abuse or deception.

The fashion industry came second, alongside personal technology, sugar cane, cocoa and fish, as most guilty of benefitting from this modern slave labour, which effects an estimated 40 million people across the world. The state of modern slavery is also a feminist issue, women are affected disproportionately — 71% of modern slaves are women and girls.

Fashion, according to The Global Slavery Index, accounts for $127 billion of the $354 billion spent on imports to G20 countries, largely through fast fashion. The most at risk garments come from China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina.

“Over 40 million people worldwide are trapped in some form of modern slavery,” the Walk Free foundation explains. “We have a responsibility to put a stop to this crime.” And according to this report, sadly, a huge amount of that responsibility falls on the lack of sustainability and ethics within our modern fashion industry.

Acknowledging this problem is the first step, but as consumers we can help by making sure our spending habits are as ethical as possible. It might sound like a small, inconsequential move to decide to buy less fast fashion (or preferably, none at all), or to shop in charity shops, but to the millions of people around the world affected by modern slavery, it’s a step in the right direction. After that, supporting designers, brands and companies that pay their factory workers fairly is hugely important. Pressure from us, the consumers, will travel up the chain and eventually convince huge corporations that rely on our dollars to exist.

Find out more about the Walk Free Foundation here.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.