Shrimp peeled by slaves are being exported around the globe, indicated a recently conducted investigation. Modern day slavery has helped Thailand become one of the world’s biggest shrimp providers.
Human trafficking and brutally enforced labor camps are forcing hundreds of thousands of poorly paid and exploited workers into the growing seafood business. The most notable seafood is the shrimp that the poorly-regulated contractors force workers to clean and pack. Many of the exporters in Thailand have been relying on poor immigrants to process thousands of tons of shrimp.
The processed seafood then heads to marketplaces in developed countries to be sold at lucrative prices, while those responsible for cleaning the produce are paid a pittance. Apart from abysmally low wages, the migrants working in factories in the port town of Samut Sakhon to peel, gut and devein shrimp are extensively exploited and abused to ensure production remains high, revealed an investigation conducted by the Associated Press (AP). The investigation followed the supply-chain and found that the shrimp peeled by modern-day slaves usually ends up in developed regions of the world.
The biggest consumers of the shrimp that are peeled by the modern-day slaves are from U.S., Europe, and Asia. Restaurants that aren’t particular about how the shrimp ends up in the delivery crate are more than likely to buy from sellers that rely on contractors employing slave labor. The trade is kept alive by the lucrative prices that the sellers offer as compared to the few legitimate contractors who treat their workforce fairly, and hence charge a little higher to pay decent wages back in Thailand.
The report indicated many of the slaves have been suffering such atrocities for a long time. The contractors even resort to lashing those who dare defy them. At the end of a grueling work day, these slaves are heralded to small jail cells where they sleep for a few hours before being pushed back into work. Some of the workers are allowed to venture out, but they have to leave their spouse or children behind as a guarantee that they won’t attempt to escape, reported SFGate.
Slaves have long been used to peel shrimp because of rampant corruption and collusion between the police and authorities. Arrests of the slave masters are extremely rare, and their prosecutions more so. Shockingly, it is the slaves who are classified as undocumented migrants and sent to jail, while the contractors go unpunished, reported the Guardian.
U.S. Customs records analyzed during the AP investigation indicated major retailers like Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General, and Petco, and restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden, are the ones who end up buying shrimp that has been peeled by slaves.
President and CEO of Thai Union Group, Thiraphong Chansiri, has promised the organization will try and put an end to the excessive reliance on small-time contractors that are majorly responsible for the modern-day slavery, reported Fox News.
[Photo by Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/Getty Images]