The Metropolitan Police estimate that over 20,000 people are trafficked into and throughout the UK every year, making it one of the most prominent destination countries for people to be trafficked to in Europe.
Saturday, December 2nd is International Day for the Abolition of Slavery 2017 and we at CCPAS are keen to help churches become more aware of the problem of human trafficking.
We were reminded of the battle against human trafficking in November when International Justice Mission (IJM) announced a successful rescue mission of nine children rescued from a remote island in the Philippines.
Police caught a Filipino suspect in a sting operation as she offered to exploit her 8-year-old daughter. She had also described other forms of sexual abuse that foreign customers could pay to watch.
IJM said: “The investigation began with a tip from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They had uncovered a case of cybersex trafficking, involving a Canadian man who would apparently pay a woman in the Philippines to direct and view “live-streamed” sexual abuse of young children.
“A team was able to support the Visayas Unit of the Philippine Women and Children Protection Centre (WCPC). They built a case using online techniques, and then travelled by car and ferry a couple hundred miles to rescue the children.”
The suspect was arrested and will face trafficking charges that could carry a lifetime prison sentence.
Earlier this year, we refreshed and expanded our range of practice guidance available exclusively for our members to include a new guide on ‘Human Trafficking and My Church,’ which deals with modern day slavery. The guide outlines for churches what is meant by the term ‘human trafficking’ and goes on to highlight the shocking statistics and facts about human trafficking and modern day slavery. In it we discuss the causes of slavery, how traffickers avoid detection, and how we can recognise and deal with human trafficking in the church. The guide ends with a number of useful contacts for anyone who may be concerned about a suspected case of human trafficking.
There have been a number of success stories this year of traffickers in the UK being brought to justice and survivors restored. In June this year nine people were jailed for a total of 40 years at Leeds Crown Court following operations and searches in October last year in the north-east of England. Fourteen victims were identified and rescued in those operations. In September this year, nine members of a traveller family who kept workers in squalid conditions in caravans were also jailed for modern day slavery offences.
Human trafficking and modern slavery are two of the most concerning forms of abuse we encounter today. These offences take place on an organised level and with high degrees of coordination between those involved. Across the world it is estimated over 45 million people are slaves, with over 11,000 in the UK. Between January and June 2017, the National Crime Agency reported almost 2,500 referrals of human trafficking in the UK, with 37% of those being children.
The eradication of human trafficking in the UK might feel like only a dream, but God calls the church to dream big dreams and take on seemingly invincible giants. Churches can play a key role in fighting against human trafficking if we are encouraging each other to be aware, prayerful and supporting those organisations that exist to bring an end to slavery.