This Spring 2016 sees the Churches Together in England (CTE) turning the spotlight on Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery – particularly from the standpoint of women affected and the girl child.
CTE is concerned to see a Christ-shaped ministry developed across the churches, responding to this challenge which, in 2015, saw over 2,000 people being referred to the United Kingdom authorities as those assessed as likely to have been trafficked. At the first stage of referral, just over a quarter of those referrals were Nigerian women, but only a handful were given a positive Conclusive Grounds decision of having been trafficked. This raises a number of profound questions.
There are questions around how the support systems, designed to protect victims, and the forward efforts at prosecution are being allocated. What happens to the women and children from Nigeria, who were not given a Conclusive Grounds decision, and why are so many women and children appearing in the reporting phase at all? What are the elements of violence, of vulnerability, of exploitation, which are behind these reporting figures? Why are so many, who are being initially reported as having been trafficked, not receiving the Conclusive decision? Who are the traffickers, and how do they recruit, seal the deals and move their ‘cargo’, and how can we protect families from these deals? And finally, what is it that the Pentecostal churches can do to engage more meaningfully in this terrible arena of exploitation, fear of reprisals, indebtedness and, for many, very physically realised violence and sexual violation?
Dr Carrie Ford, from the Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking (www.ccarht.org), has been asked to assist CTE in beginning a conversation across Pentecostal churches to explore the nature of Human Trafficking, and to strengthen the understanding across all our church communities of the presence of violence against women, within and outside of our church communities. There is, as everyone is agreed, an urgent need for all of us to be addressing the range of challenges surfacing in Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery, with intelligence, compassion, honesty and the full weight of our spiritual practice, commitment for justice and the practice of Christ.
Dr Ford has produced two resources for churches thinking about Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery (which can be found on Amazon and downloaded for Kindle) – ‘Not for Sale: Raising Awareness and Ending Exploitation’ and ‘The Real Scandal of Sex Trafficking’. Both have been powerful resources for enabling churches to bring into their worship – by means of prayers, readings and ideas for action, offering a deeper engagement from the Scriptures – ways to address practically the terrible exploitation of women and children alongside men in this contemporary challenge, which is now being identified in the United Kingdom as Modern Day Slavery. There is much more to be done – and Dr Ford, in this CTE initiative, is looking for the resources, ideas and insights from the Pentecostal churches to come forward in response to this contemporary challenge of human rights and well-being.
Dr Carrie Ford is arranging, with the sponsorship of CTE, four regional meetings with Pentecostal churches to meet together to discuss the challenges presented and the opportunities to respond. Meetings are in Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham in February and March 2016.
We are looking forward to hearing about the ministries that you might want to develop in the future – to generate support for its victims and prevent its occurrence in our connected communities – and any great ideas you have to share with us on developing the networks of resilience required to see this terrible crime pushed back into the history books and out of our contemporary lives and out of the lives of so many women and children across the world.