By Claire Dutreix
Free the Slaves is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2018 Fashion for Freedom Award: Flor Molina, a survivor of modern slavery in Los Angeles who has become a champion for trafficking victims and survivor protection. Her inspiring journey from sweatshop slavery to human rights activist and White House adviser embodies exceptional dedication and impact.
The Fashion for Freedom Award was created by Free the Slaves to honor change-makers working on the intersection of ethical fashion and slavery eradication. It is an honor that serves to recognize one person advancing those fields through creative and effective methods. Through her activism and advocacy, Molina does just that.
Molina uses her voice to speak for those affected by the atrocity of sweatshop slavery in the garment industry. She was trafficked from Mexico to the U.S. in 2001 and forced to work in a garment factory in Los Angeles. Molina’s child died in Mexico because she could not afford medical expenses, making her “an easy target” for her trafficker, she says.
After being forced to work 18 hour days for more than a month, Molina convinced her trafficker to let her leave the factory to attend church. She never went back. The FBI began an investigation and connected Molina with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a nonprofit that provides comprehensive, life-changing services to survivors and advocates for groundbreaking policies and legislation.
Since her escape, Molina has done amazing work advocating for others who have been affected by labor trafficking. “The media covers a lot about sex slavery but doesn’t talk about the labor side. I’m eager to raise awareness about labor trafficking because I am a labor trafficking survivor,” Molina says.
In 2012, Molina worked with a number of anti-slavery organizations to advocate for creation of the California Supply Chain Transparency Act. This law requires manufacturers and retailers to disclose efforts they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery-free. She recalled that most businesses were wary about supporting the concept until hearing her personal story. This underscores the vital importance of survivor leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.
In 2015, Molina was appointed by President Barack Obama to America’s first-ever U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. During her two-year term, Molina provided detailed recommendations to the president and federal agencies to strengthen U.S. policy and programs to combat human trafficking at home and abroad.
“As a survivor, advocate, activist, expert – and so much more – Flor has been a champion for the conscious consumerism movement for many years now,” Free the Slaves Fashion for Freedom coordinator Allie Gardner said. “She’s an inspiration and a true leader, and those of us fighting for a more ethical fashion industry can learn a lot from her.”
Free the Slaves will formally present the Fashion for Freedom award to Molina July 28 at the Fashion for Freedom Event in New York, where she will have the opportunity to address the event’s guests and visiting journalists. When asked what she plans to tell them, Molina said: “I want everyone to know that human trafficking exists in all industries, including the garment industry. We, as consumers, can and should be part of the solution.”
Join Free the Slaves Saturday, July 28, at The Mezzanine in Manhattan for the opportunity to honor and learn from this inspiring leader in the anti-slavery field. Tickets are on sale here.
Claire Dutreix is a Free the Slaves Intern and current Junior at the University of Mississippi majoring in Forensic Chemistry and minoring in Intelligence and Security Studies. After entering into the Intelligence Community Center, her desire to pursue a career in the field of national security grew. Since learning more about the international crisis that is modern slavery, she has become driven towards a post grad career combating it. Claire is positive that there is an end to such slavery and would be honored to play even the slightest role to make that happen.