In the spirit of Pope Francis’ commitment to combating modern slavery, judges and lawyers gathered at the Vatican last week to share experiences and commit themselves to fighting a scourge inextricably linked to the profit-seeking society
IN the words of Pope Francis, the globalisation of indifference has created a “throwaway culture”. This relates not only to the increasingly disposable consumer goods market but also to the many lives thrown away, trapped and exploited in global production lines fuelled by a profit-seeking, material gains culture.
Within the UK alone there are estimated to be more than 13,000 people trapped in modern slavery. This includes men and women in forced labour in construction, car washes, agriculture and domestic servitude, or trapped in sexual exploitation and forced criminality, such as petty thefts, cannabis cultivation or street begging. One of the most shocking cases I have come across was that of a seven-year-old child kept in a London household to work day and night, having been taken from her mother on the promise of a better life. How wrong she was.
Victims endure horrifying experiences, including violence, rape and extreme abuse. But modern slavery also has wider negative implications. There is the impact on the families and communities left behind, with victims not around to care for their children or the elderly. There is an economic problem, as victims, seeking to escape poverty, are lured by the false promise of economic gain. It is a health problem, as trafficked women and children are most at risk of HIV infection.