This Sunday 23rd September we are excited to be taking part in Freedom Sunday together with International Justice Mission (IJM) and over 5,000 churches worldwide to take a stand about the fact that slavery still exists and we cannot tolerate this injustice.
Recent reports estimate there are approximately 46 million people trapped in slavery today, more than were extracted from Africa over the 400 years of the transatlantic slave trade. IJM is the world’s largest anti-slavery organization, and it is successfully disrupting slavery in the developing world today. IJM works to protect the poorest of the poor in countries where the justice system is broken, where traffickers prey on the most vulnerable, who are outside the protection of the law.
Modern-day slavery takes many forms: sex trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude, debt bondage, forced marriages and even organ trafficking and it is happening everywhere, including the UK. In the UK there are an estimated 13,000 people currently in slavery according to the Home Office; the most prevalent forms of slavery in the UK are forced labour in the sex industry, car washes, nail salons, cannabis farms, as well as debt bondage, forced marriages and domestic servitude.
Trafficking and slavery are also happening in our beloved city of Oxford. Some of you might recall the Bullfinch Trial a few years back, exposing a child sex-trafficking ring which had been operating on the Cowley and Iffley Roads between 2004 and 2012, involving a group of Middle-Eastern men exploiting local girls. More recently, this past June four men were charged with modern slavery and forced labour offences following raids on the Old Abingdon Road and Kennington Rd.
Slavery is happening on our watch, in our own back yards, and these victims are ‘hidden in plain sight’. We see them every day, despite not knowing, so it is important to learn to recognize the signs. If you are being offered labour or services very cheaply, it is highly likely that slave labour is involved. This video by the Salvation Army is excellent in pointing to the signs: https://youtu.be/AyJgptisFNI
Unseen, one of the few UK safe houses for survivors, has created an Anti-Slavery App to help recognise and report slavery; search: ‘Unseen’ in the App Store or visit their website at https://www.unseenuk.org.
There is a newly formed Christian group, ASIOX (Anti-Slavery Initiative Oxford), which meets monthly to pray and learn about these issues, trusting that God will expose this reality in our city, free victims and bring perpetrators to justice. See below for contact details.
- 6th October - St Andrew's Church (Linton Rd): FILM SCREENING “Nefarious, Merchant of Souls”, Christian documentary exposing the global sex trade. Booking Necessary.
- 20th October - City Centre (Queen Street): WALK FOR FREEDOM. Silent walk through Oxford to raise awareness about slavery and trafficking, organised by A21 and Hillsong Oxford.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about any of these initiatives!