The Opium and Tobacco Fields in Afghanistan, Human Slavery, and Tobacco Butts As a Road to Freedom
Human trafficking is the third most lucrative global enterprise in the world today, with children going missing approximately once every 22 seconds, and profits in the range of 333 billion dollar yearly, to serve as forced labourers, sex slaves, indentured servants, or as a source of organs for the black market.
In the middle east though, human trafficking and slavery is intimately tied to the opium and tobacco fields, with girls either being forced into the fields as opium brides by child marriages and cultural mores, or simply stolen and sold as field workers. They live in great danger from roving gangs, from their overseers, or from their husbands for seeking an education or trying to better themselves as people. Women are grabbed from nearby villiages to work in the outlying fields to work as opium brides, and children are used as forced slavery in tobacco fields.
Recent technological advances, however, suggests that this entire horror – and the world economy – can be flipped right on its head.
How you might ask? The lowly cigarette butt.
A recent technological breakthrough has indicated that the heavy metals in the waste products of cigarettes can be used to create more powerful and efficient supercapitors, and the fibre from the butts can also be used to fabrics. The pollutants in the butts themselves can be leached out and used as a milder form of pesticide than those created by companies like Monsanto.
The real question is how this information is used. Cigarette butts are, to be sure, an unlikely commodity, but the poorest of smokers frequently pick them to support their addiction.
The girls and children in the middle east and Africa who work at tobacco fields or opium fields have no choice about being there at the present, and there aren’t enough factory or industry type jobs there at present.
However, with proper partnership with a global NGO, this waste material can be used to create jobs, level the playing field across the globe, empower both the poor and indigenous in North America and overseas, and create new methods of storing and creating energy.