This blog post was written for Just Love UK by the wonderful team at International Justice Mission UK. We are proud to partner with IJM as we seek justice and follow Jesus. This blog is part of our ongoing series on ‘Prayer & Justice.’
Did you know that over 40 million people globally are trapped in slavery – and that many of the products we consume every day, such as coffee, chocolate, rice and seafood, are at risk of having slavery in their supply chains? Even the clothes we wear and the phone you might be reading this on can have slavery in the supply chain.
In fact, according to Ethical Trading Initiative, 77% of UK businesses believe there is a likelihood of slavery in their supply chain. That’s something that should shock us all.
There’s never been a more important time to take action against slavery: it’s a problem that’s sadly predicted to get worse with the COVID-19 pandemic driving more people into extreme poverty, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers.
First, we can educate ourselves about the issue. IJM UK has put together a free six-week video course, launching as Lent begins today. It includes insights and wisdom from survivors of slavery, frontline workers, business leaders and activists on what the problem is and how we can create change, individually and collectively.
Just in time for the launch, here are 5 things you might not know:
- Slavery is illegal almost everywhere – and yet an estimated 40.3 million people are still held in slavery globally, 25 million of whom are in forced labour slavery – many producing the products used by consumers around the world every day.
- Slavery can take many forms, such as forced labour and sexual exploitation. Traffickers and abusers use threats and deception to keep people working for them, for little or no pay, and often without access to adequate food, sleep or medical care. Many are subject to brutal violence.
- Human trafficking, which includes the trafficking of people for forced labour, is a hugely lucrative business, generating over $150 billion a year globally.
- Forced labour and other forms of modern slavery thrive when criminals are free to exploit victims without fearing the law – which is why stopping slavery requires co-operation with global governments to strengthen legislation and enforcement.
- But change is possible! IJM has worked with authorities to see slavery reduced by up to 86% in the places where we’ve worked. We believe it is possible to end slavery in our lifetime – when we choose to take action together.
So how can you get involved in the fight to end modern slavery? Here’s 5 tips…
- Get educated: you can learn more about modern slavery, and how it impacts the consumer products we use every day, by signing up for IJM’s Make #SlaveFree Normal campaign. We’ll send you regular videos straight to your phone, containing insights from slavery survivors, frontline workers, business leaders, activists and influencers, who will share knowledge on how best to take action.
- Change your habits: look out for brands that are taking steps to avoid exploitation and produce products ethically. To find out how to do this, check out the tips in IJM’s Make #SlaveFree Normal series. Check out people like Ethical Consumer and the GoodOnYou App.
- Use your voice: both as individuals and as a collective, we have the power to influence corporate and government behaviour. Advocate for greater transparency, fair pay for workers, and for laws against exploitation to be enforced. Show the brands you love that you care about who made your clothes, coffee and chocolate. Why not ask some of your favourite brands and retailers what they’re doing to tackle labour exploitation, and how these efforts have been impacted by the pandemic?
- Pray: you can raise your voice to the God of freedom and hope, and ask that he continues to bring justice and healing to survivors of slavery around the world. When you sign up to Make #SlaveFree Normal, we’ll send you resources to help you pray: and you can receive regular prayer updates by signing up to become an IJM Prayer Partner.
- Give: why not give up one slavery-impacted item this Lent, and donate the savings to IJM? Your donations help us to work with authorities to find and free people trapped in slavery, and to hold criminals to account.