Anti-Slavery Day. Now you might think that to have a day dedicated to opposing slavery is meaningless in a country where slavery was abolished in 1833, but tragically slavery is alive and well in this country and overseas.Last weekend I heard two talks in very different contexts about slavery in India.
The first was the testimony given by a young woman called Pranitha Timothy at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Pranitha spoke about her ministry with the International Justice Mission working to free slaves in India. Her story about the dangers in freeing a group of families held captive in a rice mill was chilling, as she recalled the collusion of the mill owners, the local community and the local authorities. These vested interests would rather have murdered those being held in captivity and those seeking to free them, than see them released.
The second talk, or series of talks, was from our church CMS link partners working in northern India. The nature of their work means that I cannot be specific about their location or their names, however, the focus of their ministry is on prevention and freeing children caught up in the slave trade. Again, the range of vested interests opposing their ministry means that they are working in very challenging situations.
It is easy to conceive of slavery taking place in other countries, harder to accept it still goes on in our own. Yet, today a report from the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on human trafficking makes appalling reading. Last year 712 adults and 234 children were referred to the National Referral Mechanism as potential victims. The Child Exploitation and Online Prevention Centre estimates that there are about 300 children trafficked each year in the United Kingdom. The report claims that the first cases of trafficking for organ harvesting have now taken place. Yes, people trafficked into this country so that parts of their bodies can be taken and sold to someone else.
So what will you do on Anti-Slavery Day? Pretend it doesn’t happen? Dismiss it as something going on in the far flung corners of our globe? Or join in opposing slavery by supporting the work of the agencies I’ve mentioned or other organisations involved in the anti-slavery movement like Stop The Traffick?
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