Today is Anti Slavery Day. What you might not know is that it came about in 2010 as a Private Members Bill by Anthony Steen MP. The bill defines modern-day slavery as child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Anti-Slavery Day falls on 18 October each year. It provides an opportunity to draw attention to the subject and to pressurise government, local authorities, public institutions and private and public companies to address the scale and scope of human trafficking.
For the first time to coincide with this year’s event, the Home Office has published the Government’s first ever report on the state of human trafficking. Regrettably trafficking is on the rise in the UK. In 2011 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which seeks to bring victims out of trafficking and to a place of safety. This compares to 710 in 2010. The exact numbers of victims trafficked to the UK is obviously hard to calculate but it is estimated to be around 2000 per year of which 300 are children. This BBC article summarises the key findings of the report.
It is very welcoming to see the Government taking the issue so seriously. At the launch of the report, Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: ‘Human trafficking is abhorrent and the UK government is committed to combating this crime in all its forms.’
Below are two infographics explaining some of the report’s figures. You can click on them to open larger versions.
The Government is working with a range of partnership organisations to combat this exploitation and this year they have been promoting the work of Stop the Traffik, which is a Christian charity set up by Steve Chalke in 2006. In fact if you do a search on Twitter using #AntiSlaveryDay you’ll find a huge amount that has been happening, but what is quickly apparent is just how much of this is coming from Christian individuals and organisations. Along with Stop the Traffik, Hope for Justice and The A21 Campaign have all released promotional videos today. You can see these at the end of this post.
Singer/songwriter Jess Clayton has also released a single ‘Voice for the Voiceless’ to raise awareness of the issue. Jess works with child survivors of human trafficking and all proceeds from the single will be donated to the TRC Treehouse Project where she works.
The Christian tradition of fighting slavery is long established, with William Wilberforce the hero of the movement. Christians still continue to fight for those who are being oppressed and degraded through exploitation. If you want to see an example of the way faith in God moves people to action, then you shouldn’t need to look any further. The power of the Gospel transforms hearts and causes lives to be changed.“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18,19)
Thank you to all those who are fighting to end this abomination. Please do what you can to support their work in prayer and action.