Today on CNN, Free the Slaves board member Siddharth Kara reports on evidence of slavery in Bangladesh’s shrimp processing industry. The Bangladeshi shrimp industry yielded $550 last year, with the majority of its product going overseas—half goes to the EU, and one fourth finds it’s way to the U.S. Kara’s report:
Mushiganj, Bangladesh — This week I want to write to you about shrimp. Portions of the shrimp industry in Bangladesh involve almost every aspect of contemporary forms of labor exploitation: child labor, bonded labor, forced labor, and indirectly human trafficking.
I have traveled to the farthest tip of the southwest quadrant of Bangladesh, beyond which lies the uninhabitable Sundarban mangrove forest.
The shrimp supply chain starts here and it possesses three steps: baby shrimp collection, shrimp farming, and shrimp processing.
In the pouring rain, I took a rickety wooden boat into the muddy-brown Kholpetua river. Soon, I came upon more than four hundred smaller wooden boats. Each had one or two shrimp collectors who spread a fine blue mesh in the water. Once an hour they pulled out the net out for the yield.
“I catch thirty or forty baby shrimp each hour,” a twelve year-old boy named Abdul told me.