Slaves to shrimp

Ryan Solano, Feature

Thailand’s evil shrimp industry goes belly up when it is revealed they are selling men, women, and children to shrimp factories to work like slaves.

After years of human trafficking, Thailand has grown to be the world’s leading  exporters of shrimp. With an industry worth $7 billion, it is no surprise that corrupt authorities have done their best to hide the nation’s illegal business operation.

It is estimated that there are hundreds of shrimp-peeling sheds in Samut Sakhon, Thailand alone. Many buildings have slaves locked inside for hours at a time. One location, known as the Gig Peeling Factory, held nearly 100 laborers in confinement for 16 hour work days. Their workstations were buckets of ice water filled with shrimp where they were forced to submerge their arms to peel and clean the shrimp. 16 year old Eae Hpaw, a former shrimp slave, commented on just how rough her experience was, “We stopped working around 7 in the evening. We would take a shower and sleep. Then we would start again around 3 in the morning.” Examining the young girl tells a horror story of scars, infections, and allergic reactions that became everyday life for her and her fellow laborers.

When it comes to slave selection, factory owners are not biased. They openly purchase men and women of all ages. Images from within the sheds find that they even use children that are so small, they require stools just to reach the peeling table.

Now where exactly does all this seafood go? On the plates on unaware Americans’ plates, that is where! In November, Associated Press tracked multiple shipments of shrimp from their factories to Thai exporting companies. The shrimp was then exported to the United States where it was put into the supply chains of many well-known American companies. This included Wal-Mart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Dollar General, and Petco. Famous restaurants that received the shrimp were Red Lobster and Olive Garden. While many of these businesses are appalled by the evil shrimp and are in the process of launching investigations, companies like Wal-Mart and Red Lobster are denying that their shrimp are tainted.

Even though this information has surfaced, the United States and Thailand have yet to act upon it. In the past, Thailand has promised to come clean. But the corrupt authorities have both blatantly disregarded the law and have found gaps to get around the anti-slavery rules. Fortunately, Associated Press’ ongoing investigations have pressured over 2,000 former slaves to be freed. AP has also persuaded law enforcement to seize over $1 million of product. If Americans wish to contribute to the cause, they are urged to avoid purchasing slavery produced goods.

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