Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery – in Three Parts

Part 1 – Modern Slavery

Modern slavery is the exploitation of men, women and children for financial gain. It is the world’s fastest growing global crime, estimated to involve over 40 million men, women and children around the world today – that’s more than five times the population of London. Which is more than at any other time in human history.

So vast a problem can seem overwhelming but every individual and organisation has a part to play to stop slavery. The Kingdom of God is in the Neighbourhood. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood.” The Message – John 1. 14 –

We are called to preach good news to the poor, to bring freedom to those who are captives – literally and metaphorically – and to show and tell everyone that the Kingdom of God has shown up in the person of Jesus and is here, in our neighbourhood.

For an anti-slavery organisation like International Justice Mission, their move into the neighbourhood is in response to urgent, global need. But it involves the patient work of gathering of evidence and undercover investigations, so that convictions can be made, whilst working with an often corrupt and reluctant police force. They conduct rescues and rehabilitation for modern-day slaves on a frustratingly slow but persistently international scale.

IJM work on the basis that as rescue and arrest operations lead to convictions, traffickers who had formerly thought nothing of abusing children for profit will begin to realise that it is not worth the risk. Having rescued 1,275 women and children from sex trafficking in the Philippines, studies have shown that the number of minors available for purchase on streets and in bars once notorious for sex trafficking has plummeted between 75% and 86% in the cities where IJM has worked.

But what about our community, our neighbourhoods? What Does Slavery Look Like For Me? Whether it’s fruit pickers or construction workers, in hotels, nail bars, or car washes. It’s hidden in plain site. From Bulgaria to Brighton, and North Africa to Clapham North, there will be men, women and children, held against their will, exploited by others for monetary gain. That’s what modern-day slavery looks like.

Our God sees and cares about every single one. And as we cry out for something to be done, we need to be prepared to be the answer to our own prayers. Last year The Clewer Initiative was set up by the CofE to help churches detect modern slavery in their communities and help provide victim support. They’ve created the Safe Car Wash app as one tool to aid in this fight.

“WILLIAM WILBERFORCE CONVINCED HIS GENERATION THAT SLAVERY WAS A SIN. THAT BELIEF HAS NOT CHANGED. THE SIN LIES IN OUR IGNORANCE TO ITS EXISTENCE AROUND US.” – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

Unseen operate the UK’s Modern Slavery Helpline, which they established with BT in 2016. They also provide safe houses for men, women and children who have escaped slavery, as well as training for professionals – teachers, social workers, police and health workers – to identify the signs of slavery and how to respond. Their app provides a simple guide to recognising the signs of modern slavery and reporting concerns in confidence.

Becoming aware of the existence and scale of the problem is vital but we cannot stop there. What can you do to find out more about modern slavery in your neighbourhood? Vineyard 61 is committed to playing its part in ending modern slavery. In particular we support the Sophie Hayes Foundation, a local initiative that helps survivors of slavery and trafficking rebuild their lives.