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2015 Laureate Global Days of Service

The Sweatshop Challenge: Unite Against Slavery

There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history.
- The United Nations

Date: 16 October 2015 – 17 October 2015

Time: Friday 18:00 – Saturday 6:00am

When people talk about human slavery, those listening often appear completely confused.  They say “We don’t have slavery any more.  Slavery was abolished 150 years ago.  In the USA, a war over this issue was fought.  There are no slaves.”  But reality articulates itself in a different way.  Globally, it is estimated that there are nearly 36 million men, women and children that have been trafficked, and forced into slavery. Matt Friedman, 852 Freedom Campaign.

These victims can be found in factories, construction sites, within fisheries and sex venues/brothels. If one assumes a 20 percent turnover in the number of slaves annually, this means that 7 million new slaves enter these sites each year; 19 200 per day, 800 an hour or one every five seconds. 

Human slavery affects every country in the world.  What can we do about it? Unfortunately, unless the whole world stands against it, combating it in its entirety continues to be a great challenge to overcome.

Take the challenge

The purpose of the sweatshop challenge is to give people an understanding of what it is like to experience the conditions that workers in a sweatshop environment are often susceptible to. Those who participate will be asked to do this activity and then “Imagine if this was your life seven days a week, 365 days a year. It isn’t your life and it shouldn’t be anyone else’s.”

Activities are tedious and boring; they will make people’s hands numb and cramp up, creating a sense of pointlessness, without food, beverages or breaks. Participants will be asked to keep quiet for extended periods of time, and would have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Only water will be provided.

The simulation activities:

  • Nuts and bolts: screwing and unscrewing nuts and bolts.
  • Sorting coloured rice: picking out and dividing colours into separate bowls and then repeating the process.

The simulation will be run for a 12 hour period, participants can stop at any time, however the aim is to complete the challenge.

Walking in their shoes

One of the best ways to quickly understand the complexity and sheer horror of modern day slavery is to listen to real life stories. During the challenge we will share victim accounts and videos in partnership with the 852 Freedom Campaign, presentations will also be given by counter trafficking organisations.

Helping participants understand that anyone could fall victim to human trafficking, it is not a stereotypical issue that only plagues itself upon a certain age group, gender, race or economic status.

Partners and sponsorship

The Sweatshop challenge is being run by Crimon, a student organisation at Monash South Africa (MSA) together with Community Engagement Department at MSA. Our external partners include: the 852 Freedom Campaign, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (The UNODC) and World Wide Documentaries.

We will be inviting corporates, businesses, NGO’s and schools to participate in the challenge.  The ultimate goal is to create awareness strong enough to leave participants with a sense of urgency to end human slavery.


Knowledge creation through research

A policy document with an article in mind will be completed by Dr Victoria Graham, Head of International Studies in collaboration with MSA students, documenting the experience and raising awareness for sweatshops worldwide.

Further research outcomes will be identified through partners and the academic staff to continue to produce knowledge on human trafficking.


Creating awareness around human trafficking and human slavery through our student body and partner organisations and institutions.

Partner Support

Through our partner organisations MSA will offer additional ongoing support through student internships and volunteerism to organisations combating human trafficking and human slavery.


The event links to areas of study on campus, creating a platform for students to engage in experiential learning, highlighting challenges that we are facing globally and locally in Africa and South Africa, such as:

  • Xenophobia
  • Refugees
  • Sexual Violence
  • Drugs
  • Various types of discrimination.

Participant Support

Debriefing sessions will be held during and after the event. Being exposed to traumatic stories and the reality of human trafficking will affect participants in different ways; therefore we will provide the necessary support. 

Click on any of the following links for similar events:

Sweatshop Challenge videos



Matt Friedman - “Where were you?” Speech


Contact Details

Shannalee Doran – President of Crimon srdor2@student.monash.edu 

Bronwyn Du Rand – Head of Community Engagement bronwyn.dugtig@monash.edu


Should you wish to participate in the campaign, please fill out the online registration form.

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