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In Plain Sight: A Conference to Promote Catholic Responses to Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking

On Tuesday 15 October 2019 Carol Hill (Director of Catholic Care), Jess Price (Team Leader from the Schools, Children & Family Wellbeing Services), Lucy Irvine (Refugee & Asylum Seeker Response Co-Ordinator), and Deacon Joe (Catholic Care Trustee) headed down to London to a truly inspiring conference looking at the amazing work being undertaken around this difficult area of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.” Pope Francis

Throughout the day talks were given by organisations showcasing their work whilst at the same time inspiring others. These included the Santa Marta Group, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Medaille Trust and Caritas Westminster talking about their work at Bakhita House. After lunch Detective Chief Inspector Sion Hall from the Lancashire Constabulary spoke movingly about the impact of the public in fighting trafficking through organised crime and that it is everyone’s responsibility to spot the signs and to do something about it.

The statistics are really horrific with 40 million people worldwide victims of Modern Day Slavery and of these, 1 in 4 is a child. It has infiltrated business models with displaced people being taken advantage of. In recent times there has been a distinct change in language to the closed fist of aggression rather than the hand of friendship.

It is frightening that the cobalt within each of our mobile phones comes from a mine where a child will die this week.

We heard Rose’s story (not her real name):
• Up to the age of 21, she had a happy childhood.
• At the age of 21, she realised her dream and started university.
• But then she was sold by her father into a pre-arranged marriage.
• She ran away with her university boyfriend and enjoyed a couple of months of happiness before he then sold her into prostitution.
• Rose had 15 clients a day until she ran away.
• Now 636 days free, with the help of Bakhita House, Rose is now back studying. She has moved to a better life.

This highlights that traffickers do not care about anything except wealth. People are not people, they are commodities.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols ended the day speaking with real conviction that the role of the Church is in campaigning to change today’s business models and introduce transparency in the supply chain.